Samsung Electronics is lifting its suspension of a Chinese supplier found using child labor, after local authorities determined that the factory had not intentionally hired the underage workers.
In July, the Korean tech giant had temporarily suspended the supplier Dongguan Shinyang Electronics after a labor watchdog said the factory had hired five workers under the legal working age of 16. A Samsung follow-up investigation later found evidence that the illegal hiring did indeed take place.
But on Tuesday, Samsung said it would resume business with the supplier. Chinese authorities concluded that the supplier had not hired the underage workers directly, but through a subcontractor, the company said in an email.
“Given the Chinese authorities’ finding that Dongguan Shinyang itself did not hire child labor, Samsung will lift the suspension,” the company added.
Samsung, however, is still punishing the supplier for failing to monitor its subcontractors. The company is reducing its business volume at the factory by 30 percent from last year’s level.
The Korean company has been working to improve labor conditions at its suppliers in China, and taken the measure of requiring the manufacturers to use ID checking scanners to verify the ages of workers.
Samsung had originally audited Dongguan Shinyang Electronics on June 25, and found no underage workers. But New York-based China Labor Watch conducted its own undercover investigation and found two workers aged 14, and three others aged 15.
The five workers have since been forced to leave the factory, according to group. The hiring of underage workers, although illegal, can be commonly found at Chinese factories. Many of the young workers come to the factories as part of “internships” organized by their schools during the summer and winter vacation periods.