A Chinese company supplying mobile phone parts to Samsung has suspended production due to concerns it has been using child workers.
The Dongguan Shinyang Electronics factory, a wholly owned subsidiary of South Korea's Shinyang Engineering, halted production indefinitely after Samsung said results of an audit raised suspicion about illegal child labour. The revelation promted Samsung to cease cooperation with Dongguan Shinyang Electronics.
According to a Shinyang Engineering representative, work at the Dongguan factory has been suspended since mid-July while Chinese authorities investigate the allegations. Employing children under 16 years of age is illegal in China.
"We hope the problems will be resolved in a speedy manner so that we can resume production soon," the representative said.
A local government entrusted with the investigation said on its website it hadn’t found any initial evidence of unlawful practices.
The investigation was launched after US-based non-governmental organisation China Labour Watch said it had found "at least five child workers" without contracts at the supplier during its independent investigation.
The NGO accused Samsung of not having proper processes and monitoring procedures in place to assure its suppliers comply with its strict policies regarding child labour.
Ian Spaulding, a senior partner for Elevate, a firm carrying out social compliance audits for manufacturers in China, said 1.21 per cent of audits in 2014 had found evidence of child labour. He said the percentage of under-age workers increased during the winter and summer vacations, with students working in plants to meet the cyclical peaks in production in some sectors.
"If you're going from 10,000 to 60,000 workers in one month, it's hard for any factory to screen out those ineligible workers," Spaulding added.