Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer, has run into trouble in Brazil, where it has one of its main manufacturing and packing facilities. The government there has filed a $108 million lawsuit against the Korean firm over poor working conditions.
The suit, reported on Tuesday by Brazil’s Tribuna Hoje, follows inspections by regulators in May 2011 and May this year, 1,200 legal complaints by workers, and more than 2,000 requests for temporary removal (of up to 15 days) from the factory floor on health grounds.
The main problems appears to be the 15-hour working days and the speed at which the workers have to assemble and package Samsung products – 85 seconds to assemble a smartphone and 6 seconds to package it, for example. This amounts to three times as many motions per minute as is medically advisable, and the health complaints leading to those requests for removal include tendonitis, back problems and other musculoskeletal disorders.
The plant in question is located in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state. It is used to supply Samsung products such as TVs and smartphones across Latin America.
Samsung has previously gotten into trouble over manufacturing conditions in China. In an echo of Apple’s longstanding problems there, Samsung’s suppliers have been accused by New York-based China Labor Watch of instituting 16-hour working days with one day’s rest each month.
In a statement, Samsung said on Tuesday that it was reviewing the Brazilian government’s complaint. “We take great care to provide a workplace environment that assures the highest industry standards of health, safety, and welfare for our employees across the world,” it said.