Commuters walk past an advertisement for the Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy S5 smartphone in Hong Kong, China in this 2014 file photo. (Brent Lewin/Bloomberg)
Commuters walk past an advertisement for the Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy S5 smartphone in Hong Kong, China in this 2014 file photo. (Brent Lewin/Bloomberg)

Samsung is facing accusations that one of its Chinese suppliers uses child labor.

The New York-based watchdog China Labor Watch (CLW) published a report Thursday about a factory known as Shinyang Electronics, which provides parts for cellphones sold by Samsung.  The group said that  by the third day of its “undercover investigation,” it had found five workers under 16 were working at the Shinyang Electronics factory. The workers did not have contracts, worked 11 hours a day, and were underpaid, according to the group’s report.

The accusation conflicts with a report published in June by Samsung, which said an external audit examined 94,236 employees working for its 138 suppliers in China in 2013, and “no instances of child labor were found.” At the time of audit report, Samsung was already under fire in South Korea, where the company was accused of making its own workers sick and even causing death from chemicals released from a Samsung’s chip factory.

Samsung is “urgently looking into the latest allegations and will take appropriate measures in accordance with our policies to prevent any cases of child labor in our suppliers,” the company said in a statement to The Washington Post Thursday.

“At Samsung Electronics, we deeply care about the health and safety of all our employees and employees at our suppliers, and strictly maintain a zero tolerance policy on child labor,” Samsung told the The Washington Post in an e-mailed statement. “For the supplier in question, we have conducted a thorough audit in March 2013 which was followed by a third party inspection in August 2013, and yet another one in June 2014. No cases of child labor were found during these audits.”

Previous allegations from the China Labor Watch in 2012 said Samsung was turning a blind eye to child labor at its suppliers in China. The 2012 report also accused the Samsung supplier of making its employees work “inhumane” hours.

Since 2012, Samsung has required suppliers to strengthen their identity verification process in 2012, including face-to-face interviews of candidates, and a facial recognition system that was introduced in April this year, the company said in a statement.

The Washington Post was unable to reach officials at the Shinyang factory.

CLW investigated other aspects of the factory, including the wages and benefits, working hours, living conditions, and safety measure. Here are some of their findings:

  • Student workers are paid a flat hourly rate of 9 RMB (equals approximately $1.44), regardless of whether the work was weekday overtime or weekend overtime.
  • Workers don’t receive any safety training even though 24 hours of training is required by China’s Provisions on Safety Training of Production and Operation Entities.
  • New workers must sign a blank contract with the factory when they are hired – without information about the content of work, location of work, hours and leave, compensation, working conditions, occupational hazards and protection.
  • Typical work schedule at Shinyang: Day shift runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with 30 minutes lunch and dinner breaks; night shift runs from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. with 30 minutes nighttime meal and breakfast breaks. Workers are made to work as many as 30 days per month, 11 hours per day.
  • The factory requires management approval for an employee to resign.