Group says it found child workers at Samsung supplier factory

Student workers and child workers taking a break. China Labor Watch

A labor rights group says it has uncovered evidence that a Samsung supplier employs underage workers, among other abuses.

China Labor Watch said Friday that an HTNS Shenzhen Co. factory that assembles Samsung cell phones employed at least three girls under the age of 16. The group noted that the discovery came just two weeks after Samsung said it did not find any child workers while auditing this factory in September.

"Treated the same as adult workers, these three girls work overtime hours in excess of 13 hours per day and are paid overtime wages below the legal standard," the group said. The monthly overtime hours of one girl surpassed 150 hours.

Other abuses CLW said it uncovered at the factory -- which employs 1,100 workers -- included forced overtime, forced labor, subminimum overtime wages, crude personnel management, hiring discrimination, safety training that doesn't satisfy legal standards, the inability of workers to resign, and heavy use of dispatch labor.

CLW said it notified Samsung about the girls, and the Korean company sent personnel to speak with them. But as of today, two of the girls no longer work at HTNS, preventing Samsung from contacting them.

"Investigators of CLW have discovered child labor in other factories that produce for Samsung as well," CLW said. "Samsung must not allow such labor violations in its supply chain. It should put measures in place immediately to ensure that no more child workers will be involved in any part of the production or assembly process of Samsung products."

The condition of workers in the electronics industry has come under intense focus in recent months. Apple, Samsung, and many other large tech companies have faced fire over the treatment of the people building their phones, tablets, and other gadgets. As a result, the companies have pledged to do more to prevent the abuses. Apple even has said it plans to make more of its products in the U.S.

Samsung did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.

This article originally appeared on CNET.

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    Shara Tibken is a staff writer for CNET focused on consumer tech news. She previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and the Wall Street Journal. She's a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."

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