Samsung has been slugged with a massive 250 million real fine – roughly $117 million – by the Brazilian Ministry of Labour and Employment (MPT) for labour violations in a factory in the city of Manaus.
According to reports, workers at the factory are expected to work for up to 10 hours per day on foot, with one employee asked to work for 27 consecutive days without a break.
The plant, which supplies the company’s electronics products for Latin America and employs around 5600 people, generated an alarming 2018 requests for sick leave due to muscular-skeletal conditions.
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The high rate of injury has been blamed on a combination of the repetitive nature of tasks, the lack of chairs, poor height of tables and the frantic pace of production.
The company packages a mobile phone box, including a handset, two instruction manuals and a charger in about six seconds, with the process repeated around 6800 times per worker per day.
The total time to manufacture a mobile phone is 85 seconds, a television is boxed in 4.8 seconds, while a split-system air conditioner is assembled in two minutes.
The pace is more than three times the safe limit recommended in official guidelines.
Because the factory falls in the Manaus Free Zone, Samsung also enjoys an industrialised products tax exemption and a reduction of up to 75% on income tax, with the company transferring its social security liabilities to the state.
“As soon as we receive notification about cases like this, we will investigate our processes and will cooperate fully with the Brazilian authorities,” Samsung says in a statement.
The fine is the latest in a string of health and safety incidents linked to Samsung’s production facilities around the world.