Samsung and Panasonic investigate Malaysia labour abuse claims

25 November 2016

Two major electronics brands have confirmed they will investigate allegations of abuse of workers rights in their supply chains in Malaysia.

The investigations are in response to a report by The Guardian that claimed to have found evidence that migrant workers in factories making products for Samsung and Panasonic were being forced to work up to 14 hours a day without sufficient rest or toilet breaks.

The newspaper also alleged that the workers, all Nepalese, had paid recruitment fees of up to £1,000, had been deceived about the pay they would receive and were told they faced large fines if they wanted to return home before their contract ended.

All of the workers claimed their passports had been confiscated, said the paper.

Samsung told SM it was conducting an on-site investigation of the labour supply companies it works with in the country, and said it would suspend its business with any companies found in violation of regulations.

“As a committed member of the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), we comply fully with the EICC's Code of Conduct and have found no evidence of violations in the hiring process of migrant workers hired directly by our manufacturing facility in Malaysia. Once there is any complaint, we take swift actions to investigate,” it said.

The firm also acknowledged “the challenges around migrant workers in Malaysia”, and said it was working with the non-profit Business for Social Responsibility to develop specific guidelines, expected to be released by the end of the year, to apply to all of its manufacturing facilities and local labour supply companies.

Panasonic also told SM it had started a full investigation into the claims made by The Guardian. “We are taking these allegations very seriously and if, in fact, we discover that one of our suppliers has violated such laws or regulations, we will ensure and require them to take necessary corrective action immediately,” it said.

It added it outlines its CSR policy in contracted terms and conditions with each supplier and said it does not “tolerate breaches of these terms”.

The Guardian said it spoke to 30 Nepalese workers in factory making and assembling components for household electronics, including microwaves, to be sold globally. It claimed that while some were directly employed by Samsung, the majority of workers were hired through subcontracted labour supply companies.

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