After commissioning an external agency to conduct on-site checks for 100 suppliers in China last year, Samsung discovered pervasive labor violations such as discriminatory language in recruitment notices or contracts, careless administrative errors and excessive overtime hours in a majority of the suppliers. In Samsung’s Sustainability Report for 2014, the company has detailed its code of conduct and provided solutions for each and every violation the agency disclosed.
According to the report, minors were found handling hazardous chemicals at 48 suppliers, administrative errors were found at 33 suppliers, 39 suppliers paid employees fixed wages regardless of overtime work, 7 suppliers didn’t train managers on disciplinary actions and a whopping 59 suppliers didn’t provide proper protective gear to keep their employees safe.
In response, Samsung has established new protection policies for minors, mandated suppliers subscribe to social insurance for every worker, conducted training with managers and required suppliers to provide appropriate gear for the employees.
Samsung has been accused of dozens of labor violations in the past, from overworking its staff to employing children as young as 14. In one of the most publicized cases of the past several years, several Samsung workers were diagnosed with leukemia and other incurable diseases after spending time in one of Samsung’s chipmaking facilities. It took years for the company to own up to the incident and issue an official apology.
Samsung is now on the road to recovery, working to proactively end any serious violations before they balloon out of control. If Samsung’s response has been as aggressive as the Sustainability Report suggests, the company is certainly on the right track.