Samsung hit with lawsuit over labor conditions


A Samsung Electronics office on July 30, 2012 in San Jose. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
August 14, 2013

Samsung has been named in a lawsuit filed by a Brazilian labor group, which said working conditions at the technology firm’s assembly lines were in violation of Brazilian law.

According to a translated version of a news release on the group, Reporter Brasil’s, Web site, inspectors from the Brazilian ministry of labor found employees were working up to 15 hours per shift while making Samsung products. The group is asking for at least $108 million in damages, according to the Associated Press, and asks that the firm bear the cost of treatment for employees with occupational diseases. The group is also asking Samsung to change procedures at its plant to avoid future injuries such as tendonitis and bursitis.

In a statement, Samsung said it would cooperate with any formal investigation: “Once we receive the complaint in question, we will conduct a thorough review and fully cooperate with the Brazilian authorities. We take great care to provide a workplace environment that assures the highest industry standards of health, safety, and welfare for our employees across the world.”

This is not the first time the technology industry has come under fire for working conditions in overseas factories. Apple, most notably, has been singled out by customers and activists who have repeatedly questioned whether the workers who make iPads, iPhones and Macs work in acceptable conditions. Apple, addressing those concerns, has issued an annual supplier report since 2007, offering information on the audits it conducts in its own factories. As of last year, the firm is also a member of the Fair Labor Association, which conducts its own third-party audits.

The New York-based group China Labor Watch has also questioned the conditions in Samsung’s factories in the past, prompting the company to say that it would look into reports that its assembly plants in China were using underage labor.

Samsung, which is the world’s leading smartphone maker, is also one of the largest makers of components such as LCD screens and memory chips that go into other firms’ products.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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