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Samsung's report on Chinese suppliers makes for grim reading, especially between the lines

Sharif Sakr

On the face of it, Samsung's latest report on working conditions at the factories of its Chinese suppliers follows just the kind of careful, lawyer-scrutinized language we'd expect from a big multinational. It repeats the manufacturer's earlier insistence that no children have been employed, while at the same time admitting that there have been "several instances of inadequate practices at the facilities" concerning workers being made to do too much overtime, not being given proper contracts, and being fined if they turn up late or are absent -- issues which had already been revealed at one supplier, and which Samsung promises to fix by the end of 2014.

Burrow further into the document, however, and Samsung's list of promised "corrective actions" implies that its internal investigation has uncovered evidence of other serious problems. These include "physical and verbal abuse," sexual harassment, a lack of first-aid equipment and inadequate safety training. Some information is also conspicuous by its absence -- at least in the short report linked below -- including clarity on how widespread any of these failings were among the 109 companies (and 65,000 employees) that have now been audited. Did they crop up at just a handful of factories, or were they endemic across China? We have no idea, but given how much data Samsung has now dutifully amassed, it surely does. We've asked the company for more detail and will update if we hear back.

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