Firm suspected of using child labor

Shenzhen Daily

A TECHNOLOGY company in Shenzhen is suspected of using child laborers who were forced to work 12 hours a day and paid 2,000 yuan (US$328) a month, the Southern Metropolis Daily has reported.

The Shenzhen Click Technology Co. factory is located in an industrial park in Fuyong in Bao’an District, and produces batteries and magnetic components.

A Daily reporter contacted labor authorities Friday after chatting with some children who said they were primary school students and worked at the factory.

The newspaper said factory administrators had illegally hired 69 children -- 12 or 13 years old and from Liangshan, Sichuan Province -- as laborers.

Some of the children told the newspaper that they had taken trains in November -- after the New Year, according to the calendar of the Yi ethnic minority group -- from Chengdu to Kuming, then to Guangzhou and Shenzhen. 

“A total of 130 children, in two groups, were sent to Shenzhen. The factory hired more girls than boys because girls are easily managed,” the newspaper said.

When the reporter initially asked their ages, some of the children said they were 17 or 18. But as the chat went on, the children acknowledged that they were about 12 years old and had been arranged to work in the factory, with their parents’ consent, by a man they called “boss.” 

The company was established in 2004 and also has factories in Huizhou and Jiangxi. Seventy percent of its products are exported to Europe, North America, Australia, South America and Asia.

The children were hired to assemble and package batteries.

The child laborers were paid with cash, but the boss and a human resources manager surnamed Zeng took away some overtime pay, the newspaper alleged.

When Fuyong Subdistrict labor authorities began inspecting the factory, children working there were ordered to run and hide in their dormitories, according to the newspaper.

The human resources manager, Zeng, said the young workers were hired through a middleman but denied they were child laborers, even while acknowledging that some of them were younger than 16.

Police checked the children’s identities, but not all of them could provide IDs and some insisted they were 17 or 18, saying their ID cards were kept by the boss and the middleman in Sichuan Province. Copies of the children’s hukou registrations all showed they were born in 1995 or 1996 and were all older than 16, although the company hadn’t signed any contracts with the children. 

Labor authorities said there were big discrepancies in documents provided by the company, which is suspected of illegally hiring child laborers. Authorities have ordered the company to send the children back to their hometowns, warning the company could face a heavy fine if violations are confirmed.

(Han Ximin)