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Samsung Supplier Hired Underage Workers, Forced Overtime

Samsung Electronics Co. supplier HTNS Shenzhen Co. has employed at least three girls under the legal working age of 16 in China, according to a report from labor-rights group China Labor Watch.

The group also found instances of forced overtime and said that tightly shut windows resulted in poor air quality and a lack of proper ventilation at HTNS, a maker of mobile-phone covers in Huizhou City.

“The factory uses labor dispatch companies to hire a portion of its workers,” China Labor Watch said. “Some of these companies, for their own economic interests, will create fraudulent IDs in order to get child labor into HTNS, and HTNS doesn’t carry out strict verifications.”

Samsung is the largest maker of smartphones and, like other manufacturers such as Apple Inc., has come under scrutiny for the way its component suppliers treat workers.

In response to earlier China Labor Watch reports, the company in September conducted an audit of 105 Chinese suppliers and didn’t find any instance of underage workers, it said in a Nov. 26 statement.

Samsung uncovered “inadequate practices” including excess overtime, and said it was taking steps to correct labor issues and to audit an additional 144 suppliers by the end of the year.

Adam Yates, a U.S.-based spokesman for Samsung, declined to comment beyond the company’s November statement.

“It is impossible for us to hire child labor,” said Han Jang Seok, South China Managing Director of HTNS. He said that the company goes through a strict process to ensure that its employees are above the legal working age of 16.

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