2013 September 13

Samsung’s Code of Conduct – misleading advertising? First case of its kind in Europe

An investigation has been opened in Paris on an official complaint against Samsung France presented in February by three organizations: Peuples Solidaires, Sherpa, and Indecosa-CGT, based in part on China Labor Watch's report of eight factories producing for Samsung in China, published last September.

The complaint accuses Samsung France of misleading advertising by promoting a code of conduct for the treatment of the workers making their products, and that Samsung does not allegedly enforce, according to CLW’s report.

The investigation is the first of its kind in Europe. It is the first time that a public prosecutor has begun an inquiry into the contradictions between the ethical commitments of a company and its production practices.

The goal of the complaint is to establish that the ethical commitments of a brand constitute an advertisement and, thus, can mislead consumers to believe that the brand’s products are manufactured under acceptable social conditions, when this is not necessarily the case.

Earlier this month, a civil-action lawsuit was also filed by Brazil’s ministry of labour against Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. seeking US$250 million in damages for poor working conditions at the company’s assembly lines in the country’s free trade zone.

Samsung is among the largest corporations in the world, with over US$12 billion in profits in 2011. It clearly has the wherewithal to systematically improve labour conditions for its network of factories and supplier factories in China.