World | Business

Samsung Under Fire For Alleged Brazil Labor Violations

NPR | Aug. 20, 2013 6:15 a.m.

Contributed By:

Krishnadev Calamur

A man holds up a Samsung S4 smartphone against a video screen. Samsung is accused of labor violations in Brazil, home to its largest manufacturing operation.

A man holds up a Samsung S4 smartphone against a video screen. Samsung is accused of labor violations in Brazil, home to its largest manufacturing operation.

Dado Ruvic, Reuters /Landov

We told you recently about new allegations of violations at three Chinese factories that make Apple’s popular iPhones and iPads. Now, we have more allegations of labor violations – this time against Apple’s main rival, Samsung, and its operations in Brazil.

The Associated Press reported last week: “Labor prosecutors in the northern Brazilian state of Amazonas said they are suing Samsung for 250 million reals ($108 million) because its plant in the industrial center of the state capital of Manaus has been exposing employees to risks of illnesses due to intense, repetitive work.”

The facility is the largest that Samsung operates in the world. It employs about 6,000 people, and supplies the entire region with electronics, including smartphones.

A labor court will hear the suit. The Wall Street Journal reports notes that the requested compensation would be the maximum judgment.

In a statement, Samsung said it will cooperate with Brazilian authorities.

“We take great care to provide a workplace environment that assures the highest industry standards of health, safety, and welfare for our employees across the world,” the company said.

Here’s more from the AP:

“Prosecutors said that Samsung came under investigation after Brazil’s Labor Ministry verified that workers perform three times more movements per minute than what is considered safe by ergonomic studies. They said in a statement that many employees work up to 10 hours a day while standing, and more than 2,000 workers suffered from health problems such as back injuries in 2012 that were related to working conditions.”

As The Wall Street Journal notes, Brazil is the world’s sixth-largest smartphone market; Samsung is the largest smartphone vendor in the country.

The company’s troubles in Brazil mirror allegations in China where labor groups have alleged violations at Samsung facilities. They also are similar to what rival Apple faces in China. Last month, a New York-based labor rights group cited violations at three factories in China that make Apple products. The organization said violations at the facility “are even worse than those at Foxconn factories.”

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