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Samsung accused of sex discrimination in China plant

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South Korean electronics behemoth Samsung has been hit by fresh allegations of impropriety at one of its manufacturing plants in China, this time involving purported sexual discrimination in its hiring policy.

Rights group China Labor Watch (CLW), which has been something of a thorn in the side of the chaebol in recent months, claimed to have obtained a photo of a recruitment poster at the Tianjin Samsung Telecom Technology (TSTC) factory in northern China.

The poster, which CLW says was snapped on 29 August, states that only women with no communicable diseases will be considered as applicants for new roles at the 6,000-strong plant, which produces Samsung mobile phones.

This would seem to flout Chinese employment law. Article 12 of the PRC Labour Law states the following: “Labourers shall not be discriminated against in employment, regardless of their ethnic community, race, sex, or religious belief.”

The poster also seems to break China’s Employment Promotion Law, article 30 of which states: “No employment unit, when recruiting employees, shall refuse to employ a job candidate on the basis that he/she is a carrier of any infectious pathogen.”

Samsung was recently forced to audit a plant in Huizhou run by contractor HEG Electronics after allegations of child labourers there.

Although it failed to uncover evidence of such, the audit did reveal “several instances of inadequate management and potentially unsafe practices” and the firm threatened to cut HEG’s contract if it failed to address the situation.

“Samsung abides by all labour and human right laws in each region it operates and strictly enforces bans on child labour, forced labour and workplace discrimination,” it said at the time in a lengthy statement.

The TSTC plant, however, is directly managed by Samsung and 90 per cent owned by the firm, CLW claimed, making it more difficult to presume the firm was in the dark about illegal hiring practices there.

Geoff Crothall, a spokesman with Hong Kong-based rights group China Labour Bulletin, told The Reg such practices were pretty much the norm in China.

"Just about every factory recruitment ad I've ever seen discriminates on either age, gender, height and/or physical appearance and health," he said.

"Of course it is technically illegal but discrimination is so widespread and accepted that employers can often get away with it."

The China Labor Watch allegations come just days after the rights group released another report, detailing child labour and other abuses at several other Samsung owned factories.

Samsung couldn't immediately be reached for comment. ®

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