“We sent an inquiry to Samsung in August when allegations of Samsung’s use of child labor in China first surfaced,” the newspaper quoted a source of APG Asset Management, of the Netherlands, as saying. “Employment of child labor won’t be tolerated. If the allegations turn out to be true we will discontinue investment [in Samsung].”
Confirming receipt of the inquiry, Samsung spokesperson Park Cheon-ho told the Hankyoreh, “APG and other institutional investors requested us to explain the allegations against us.” He added, “we said there is no child labor [at Samsung], but there is an issue of excessive overtime, which we will examine and address.”
This is not the first time APG, the world’s third-largest pension administrator by assets, has raised concerns about poor labor practices at Samsung. In April 2010, the Dutch fund manager and seven other global investors jointly engaged Samsung, following the death of Park Ji-yeon, a 23-year-old semiconductor assembler of the company.
However, the effects of the institutional investors’ engagement were limited. APG said afterwards: “The outcome was not altogether positive.” The institutional investors said, “From the day our engagement started, reports trickled in of Samsung’s behind-the-scenes negotiating with its ailing ex-employees and the families of the deceased. Local media reported that the company had tried to buy off the case.”
APG concluded, “All in all, we are not satisfied with Samsung’s response so far.”
And young workers have continued to die. During the two years since the global institutional investors’ joint intervention in 2010, the number of victims of Samsung’s leukemia/blood disorder clusters has more than doubled to 56 from 22.
With rising concerns globally about Samsung’s negligence of human rights, SHARPS’s campaign is entering into a new stage.