Samsung is still the most popular manufacturer in the world, and even the Galaxy Note 7's big flop couldn't detract from its reputation. Now, a new problem has arisen: an NGO has accused the company of violating Chinese law. The allegations include the exploitation of working minors.
Employees have obligations and rights just like all citizens. There are laws to protect them from exploitation, but if these laws aren't enforced or if employees don't speak up or leave out of fear, what actually takes place in practice may not be law-abiding. The term 'soft law' applies to these situations, which means a law exists but that it is not actually enforced.
Unfortunately, the rights of employees are an aspect of these soft laws and some companies stand to benefit from this. This is allegedly the case with Samsung, according to the non-governmental organization Sherpa. This organization already accused Samsung a few years earlier, and now it has come back with a better case and more evidence. The organization filed a complaint and Samsung will appear before the Criminal Court of Bobigny in France.
Sherpa's information comes from a Chinese association. After visiting Samsung, sometimes anonymously, the association came to the conclusion that multiple Chinese laws are being flouted: minors under 16 are being exploited and overtime isn't being paid, among other offenses.
As the French media explains, it doesn't mean the complaint will lead anywhere, "The French courts are not likely to go to China to verify that what Sherpa reports is true. It is also difficult to imagine that Chinese authorities would accept this approach." An appeal will likely be dragged out and the case will eventually fall through.
In short, Samsung will probably emerge from this without being tainted by scandal. It should be noted, of course, that this was the case with the Nike brand a few years ago, but that hasn't stopped people from buying their products. It may also be the case that Samsung's competition is guilty of the same practices, as their smartphones are made in China as well.
Whatever comes of this story, it is important to bring attention to employees' rights. It is imperative that there is a shift from this 'soft law' to strictly enforced law, so that measures are taken against companies that don't respect workers' rights. We can only hope that things change for the better.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Does this change how you view Samsung? Let us know in the comments.