Amid a host of other legal issues, Samsung (NASDAQ:SSNLF) has recently come under fire in Brazil, where a prosecutor aims to shed light on reported poor working conditions at one of its manufacturing and packing facilities.
According to several reports out of Brazil, a public prosecutor for labor of Amazonas state has filed suit against Samsung for 250 million reais ($108 million). The suit follows investigations conducted by the Ministry of Labor, which discovered many labor rights violations at a manufacturing plant located in Zona Franca de Manaus, where various Samsung devices are produced for sale throughout Latin America.
The investigations into Samsung uncovered such infractions as excessive work hours and poor conditions. Employees were subject to standing through 10- to 15-hour work days, where they were were required to assemble and package Samsung products as a consistent speed of 85 seconds for the assembly of a smartphone and six seconds for packaging. These conditions caused employees a plethora of injuries including tendonitis, back problems and other musculoskeletal disorders, which generated approximately 2,018 requests for leaves of absence of up to 15 day due to health problems. Additionally, employees filed 1,200 legal complaints about poor work conditions on the factory floor.
Here are seven of the most important facts about this case.
1. The Manaus factory is the main supplier of Samsung products to Latin America.
2. In addition to the $108 million lawsuit, prosecutors are demanding for workers 10 minute breaks for every 50 minutes of work.
3. Samsung resolved a prior worker’s rights violation case in Brazil in 2011 with a $200,000 settlement.
4. The health effects many workers sustained were largely caused by them repeating the same task up to 6,800 times per day. Workers were executing three times as many motions per minute as is medically advisable.
5. The Labor Ministry concluded that if Samsung's assembly protocol is not changed, 20 percent of Manaus employees will develop some form of work-related musculoskeletal disorders within five years.
6. Prosecutors, however, have refrained from describing this case as an exploitation of slave labor.
7. Samsung receives numerous taxes credits for manufacturing in Brazil, including exemption from the Tax on Industrialized Products and income tax reduction of up to 75 percent.
Samsung has acknowledged the lawsuit and says it will work with Brazil to resolve the issue.
“Once we receive notification about this case, we will perform an analysis of the process and will cooperate fully with the Brazilian authorities,” Samsung told ReporterBrasil.
The South Korean company adds that it is “committed to providing our employees around the world a work environment that ensures the highest industry standards regarding safety, health and well-being.”
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