Samsung under pressure to address child labor overseas

Posted on : 2012-08-10 15:24 KST Modified on : 2012-08-10 15:24 KST
NGO asking electronics giant to take responsibility for underage workers used by supplier in China

By Kim Jin-cheol, staff reporter

Save the Children the world’s leading NGO for children rights, released a statement on August 9 expressing serious concern about the employment of child workers at the a Samsung Electronics subcontractor and calling on the company to take action.

It added that Samsung bore too much of a responsibility to dismiss the employment of minors as simply the subcontractor’s mistake, arguing that companies have an obligation to take responsibility for human rights violations that occur at their subcontractors.

It also stressed the need for more rigorous preliminary studies and oversight, noting that child labor generally tends to be employed in unofficial supply and subcontracting stages that are relatively difficult to track.

The organization expressed hopes that Samsung Electronics would avail itself of the opportunity to take basic action to improve the situation as a global business, rather than taking one-off measures such as after-the-fact investigations or changes to its subcontracting conditions.

Save the Children cited the Swedish furniture maker IKEA as an example of proactive steps. In the mid-1990s, that company responded to the discovery of child labor at one of its subcontractors in Pakistan by developing a children’s rights policy with Save the Children and other NGOs. And in 2000, it implemented the IWAY Standard, obliging subcontractors to uphold terms aimed at taking into account the best interests of children, workers, and the environment. It also launched large-scale projects geared to promoting child safety and education in the local community.

Save the Children also called on other South Korean businesses working overseas to abide by ethical management practices, and said the government should develop legal measures to ensure its businesses do not violate children’s rights at home or overseas.


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