Samsung is known as one of biggest IT service multinational corporation company in the world. Last year, Samsung had made a profit of almost $50billion (£38billion).
That huge amount of profit is made largely by the hands of cheap foreign migrant labour in Malaysia. They are making it where the condition is worse what we have imagined.
In each block there is a makeshift kitchen, a small, grubby toilet and three rooms crowded with bunk beds. There is no air conditioning to break the oppressively humid air. Outside, burning rubbish sends acrid fumes through the labour camp, which is strewn with broken furniture and an abandoned vehicle.
Most of Samsung products are assembled in-house, but it uses a long chain of suppliers to provide it with parts, services and labour, including foreign migrant workers.
Two years ago, Pete Pattisson (the writer) travelled to Malaysia to investigate the treatment of foreign workers at Samsung.
Pete Pattisson interviewed a sub-contractor who is working on the assembly line of Samsung’s microwave oven plant. He said that, “Our passports had been taken by the company. We were being paid less than promised, and that we were deep in debt after shelling out high fees to recruitment agents in their home country.”
Although all the workers are seem to work at normal factories, but they were effectively trapped in their jobs by debt and felt unable to leave although they knew they were being exploited.
Samsung’s response was quick. They immediately fired the sub-contractor. They announced that the guidelines has improved for recruitment and treatment of foreign migrant labours. The guideline applies to Samsung worksites and its suppliers, state migrant workers should pay no recruitment fees, receive the minimum wage and keep their passports. Samsung said:
We will be strictly applying and implementing these guidelines across our global operations as well as among our suppliers.
At first, there were some positive signs. Workers were relieved then before; the factory was safe, the food was good and they liked the games room in their hostel. Most importantly, those recruited directly by Samsung since 2016 said they had not paid any recruitment fees.
But what about other workers who works another company to Samsung? It didn’t say all the workers were satisfied. Were they happy with new rule? Samsung recently have made sure that conditions were improved. According to their guidelines, and international labour standards, Samsung is responsible for their welfare.
Pete Pattisson went to the worker camp again, he said that they told different story as what Samsung announced in 2016. One worker said it would take about two years to pay back the loan. Another worker said their employer take their passport, they cannot go to home, even they want to go to home. In addition, the workers claimed the company that they paid illegally; deducting almost a fifth of their basic salary each month. Likewise, they were earning far below the minimum wage. They were afraid to speak to their boss. If they spoke anything that is negative, they would be punished or deported.
Samsung responded with a statement: “We will conduct thorough investigation on this matter that you have shared with us. As a committed member of the global community, Samsung will continue our efforts to both respect and protect human rights of the migrant workers.”
I think Samsung should imagine migrant workforce who works everyday, long hours, sweating all day.