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back to article Samsung fingered in child labour allegations at China plant

Samsung has become the latest big name tech brand accused of allowing widespread labour rights violations, after a new report claimed that Chinese manufacturing partner HEG is exploiting child workers as young as 14 at its Guangdong plant. China Labor Watch (CLW), the not-for-profit organisation which last week warned a …

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Anonymous Coward

Stop judging by our standards

yeah we don't want to see our kids work until they're at least 16, some parents don't want them working til 18 because teh miimum wage at 16 is 'slave labour'. In some places in the world that isn't a chioce, its a fact of life. You have a family? You gotta work. My mum dropped out of school and started work at 15, why? Because she had to to take care of her family. My nan dropped out of school and started to work in factories at 11, same reason.

If we go around an police all these coutnies with "horrendous child labour" do you know what'll happen? Those kids will probably be worse off than they are now. Look at the kids who are taken out of child labour camps in africa, what happens? They get another job, because the other choice is living on the street.

In china it may not be quite as bad, but there are still families who can barely make ends meet, so kids are dropping out and getting jobs to support their families. Same as some kids still do over here in the UK.

It's not like somebody put a gun to the 14 year olds heads. Take away their jobs for two years and they may not even be alive to get a job when they're old enough.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stop judging by our standards

Totally agree with you.

a 14 year old is not a child, they make decisions at that time affecting their whole lives, so treat them as adults like they deserve, if they need to work, let them work!

Unfortunately the west is ran by nanny states with goody two shoes in power who want to mollycoddle everyone and don't care that anyone under 18 might have an opinion or a mind of their own!

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Silver badge
Meh

We should

We should judge them by our standards.

Children are just that, children.

All of them deserve a good childhood and protection.

If judging others by our standards causes some embarrassment to the governments and companies involved then so be it, the hope is that this will finally change lives for the better.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stop judging by our standards

In some other asian countries more under western influence than China, e.g. the Philippines or Thailand, this imported hysteria against child labour has reached a point where 16 year olds can't find a job because no one would hire them despite them desperately needing to bring income to the household. They end up selling metaemphetamine pills on the streets instead because that's easy money.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stop judging by our standards

One major point, though not the only one, is that people of such age don't have the life experience to make good decisions. Hence the vast no.s of smokers that started at 13 or 14. Just as kids are unable to empathise before about 4 or 5 yrs, they tend not to appreciate, eg, their mortality until late-teens, or even into their twenties. People under the age of about 18 often if not usually both think they're indestructible and can be manipulated by peer-pressure (and are easy meat for amoral/immoral adults, of which there are a great many just waiting for them).

However it is almost certainly true that the harder the life they are born into, the faster they 'mature', though this still doesn't negate the question of how environments they may choose to enter affect their still-developing brain.

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Silver badge

Want to avoid child labour?

Then you probably need to stop buying anything made in China and the other far east manufacturing areas. I can't see that happening any time soon.

One other thought. When these kids in Asia are grown up they'll possibly be buying stuff made by our kids in the west.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Want to avoid child labour?

Okay I'll stop buying stuff made in the eastern countries...

Correction, I'll stop buying stuff.

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Anonymous Coward

I thought the kids wanted to get their hands on the tech.

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Anonymous Coward

The issue I see is not the under 16's, but the conditions they work in!

I don't mind if a 14 year old is working in a factory, they probably need the money, so let them work...

BUT I care that they get paid the same as someone older who does the same job, and I do care that they work in good conditions!

Focusing on the age is the WRONG thing to do and will do more harm than good. Clearly the people doing the report are not very sensible...

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This kind of stuff happens all the time and there is no getting away from that. If these kids are paid a decent wage and are supporting their families then fine. If they are being treated badly/paid all most nothing then Samsung and the factory need to step up and do the right thing.

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Unhappy

"HEG is exploiting child workers as young as 14 at its Guangdong plant."

Awww, come on, things have improved enormously, ages have, in fact, doubled since here: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/nclc/item/ncl2004000947/PP/ & http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/nclc/item/ncl2004001628/PP/

Seriously, this stinks. Worldwide, attitudes have moved on since the photos in LOC's 'National Child Labor Committee Collection' were taken 100 years ago. It's always wrong to exploit youngsters wherever they are and whoever they may be. And, scenes such as this must be considered obscene (in the awful sense): http://www.greatwar.nl/frames/default-children.html and have absolutely no place in the modern world (considering, in historic terms, this photo wasn't taken that long ago, and in places it's still happening).

It's incumbent on everyone to ensure that we do not buy any products manufactured through exploitation of the young. Children are entitled to their all-too-short childhood and we should ensure that they actually get it.

(BTW, what I've said above has nothing to do with the gross over-protection and mollycoddling of kids which we so often see in the West nowadays. Kids being free to roam and do things as they wish has nothing to do with exploiting them).

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Tell you what....

Why dont you all stop whingeing like a Puritan on Ritalin and do something about it.

Its really simple to stop all this - you just have to work together.

Apple make a phone and charge £750 unlocked, Samsung do precisely the same - but the parts only cost them about £180... so where does the rest go? (listen up at the back there, this is the important bit).

It goes straight into their bank accounts as profit. Profit that you have happily handed over, with no strings attached.

The phones and computers you are buying have probably 60% profit baked into them on the basis that the western customer wont mind that the factories that make them resemble a scene from Futurama "come on kids, time to play 'find the shiny'". FORCE the companies to treat their employees fairly, FORCE the companies to grow a conscience. Dont buy their products if they are employing people in poor conditions. Use the older phone thats perfectly capable for longer. Make it very clear to people like the BBC that they should support every single currently used smartphone OS, not screw around with their DRM every time there is a day in the week (how hard can it be, there are only 6, and two of those are based off the same (12 year old) kernel).

Do that to Apple, or Samsung, or HTC - let them see their UK profits drop 50% - and they'll soon start asking what on earth is going on...

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Anonymous Coward

so where does the rest go?

I'll tell you where it goes. It doesn't go "straight into their bank accounts as profit". It goes straight into the pockets of US lawyers as the stupid bastards continue to sue each other senseless in the US courts. :-)

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Silver badge

Re: Tell you what....

Apple make pretty decent profits, but not 76% of turnover.

For starters, 20% of the £750 selling price goes to George Osborne in the form of VAT. Then there is the import duty, the costs of running your local Apple store, transportation, the costs of installing and setting up the equipment in the factories, the cost of wages the cost of designing and developing the iDevice, the cost of the software and so on. £180 may well get you a bundle of components at various factory gates around the world, but turning that into a fully functional iDevice waiting for you at your local Apple Store costs quite a bit of money.

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This can't be right

It's a negative story about exploiting Chinese labour and it doesn't mention Apple once.

Not believable.

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Bronze badge
Happy

Re: This can't be right

"It's a negative story about exploiting Chinese labour and it doesn't mention Apple once.

Not believable."

And this is because everyone knows Apple has absolutely no problems with its Chinese manufacturing plants. What's you point?

There...now Apple is mentioned TWICE. Happy?

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Re: This can't be right

Perhaps you should see someone about your sarcasm blindness.

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Bronze badge
Happy

Re: This can't be right

Right after you see the same person for yours John Boy.

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Joke

See??

We told you that Samsung copies everything Apple does, but noooooo, no one believed us.

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Big Brother

The exploitation of students in China's vocational education system,

well described in the pdf file to which Phil provides a link, reminds me, for some odd reason, of the way so-called «internships» and «job-training programmes» are currently used to extract unpaid labour from students and others in North America and Europe. Here relations between capital and labour have moved decisively in favour of the former during the last three decades ; I hope that will not prove to be the case in the coming three decades in China....

Henri

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I can't believe some people here actually say it's ok to exploit young kids and put them in horrible working conditions just because they don't know any better and have no one to protect them. "If they need to work, let them work" really? And treating interns badly is just low. Samsung and Apple should be ashamed of abusing children for their meager profits. I'm so glad I get rid of my burnt out Samsung and get myself an LG smart. One more thing, is that title a pun?

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Anonymous Coward

Ironically I've just returned from touring factories to audit such issues as this. The big problem is really about exploitation and slavery more than age these days. But as a responsible company you can't just shut down factories which have teenagers in them, you need to work with them to ensure that you are behaving in a socially responsible way. If you shut them down you are just going to make their lives harder. The questions you need to ask are:

Are any of these people being exploited (young or old)? (fair conditions, dispute process, representation, a fair working wage).

Are they being forced to work against their will?

Are they working in safe conditions?

Are they being denied their right to a basic education because they are working?

In this case it sounds like some corrupt officials where making a mint by taking young people out of school and getting them to work for a pittance, someone else was probably getting paid-off to over look it and perhaps someone at Samsung didn't do sufficient checks. But considering the fact that many of them had false papers I am not surprised that Samsung didn't spot it. The fact that they had "interns" doing manual labour is where this really sticks with me, factory work is essentially low-skill labour and while work-experience might be valid for a taste, there is no need to exploit kids by calling them interns. There should be sufficient workers in the world without having to fish them out of school and calling it an 'intern-ship'. If young people want to continue education while working then that is a different programme and could be praised, as long as it is formalised and managed.

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Anonymous Coward

What a SHOCKER !

Well only if you're a damn fool. Samsung, Apple, Microsucks, Acer, Foxconn and all the other unscrupulous operators are more than willing to use SLAVE LABOR to increase CEO compensation. It works quite well resulting in $700 MILLION in annual compensation for Tim Cook and others. As long as people continue to buy products produced in China, slave labor will continue. You can vote with your wallet.

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