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Rights activists accuse Samsung of using child labor

In a report to be released later this week, US rights group China Labor Watch alleges that electronics giant Samsung is using child labor in its Chinese factories. German news weekly "Spiegel" has revealed first details.

South Korean electronics firm Samsung was using child labor in a "widespread and systematically organized" fashion in its factories in China, the German news magazine "Spiegel" wrote Monday, quoting from a China Labor Watch (CLW) report, to which it was given exclusive access.

In its report, New York-based CLW described working conditions in the Samsung factories as generally "dangerous," with workers doing "a lot of overtime on the basis of illegal contracts."

In addition, the rights group reportedly identified some children under the age of 16 as workers in three of the six Samsung factories to which it was granted access.

The use of child labor was regulated "under contracts between factories and schools," Spiegel quoted from the report. Schools were "remunerated" for sending children, it added, and teachers would threaten them with withholding graduation certificates if they disobeyed.

Other firms under scrutiny

Samsung told the news magazine that it had knowledge of the report and was working to "completely analyze" the situation in its Chinese factories.

"The highest standards of working conditions is the yardstick by which we want to be judged," the South Korean electronics giant told "Spiegel."

Spiegel wrote that CLW's report also focused on the working conditions in Chinese suppliers to other electronics firms, including Dell, IBM, Ericsson, Philips, Microsoft, HP, Nokia and Apple.

In recent months, Apple's supplier Foxconn has been accused of running sweatshop conditions in its factories in the Asian country.

According to Spiegel, the CLW report concluded that Samsung was now also "violating Apple's right to tyrannize its workers" - an allusion to the current patent war between the two global electronics leaders.

uhe/tj (AFP, dpa)

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