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Samsung violates Chinese workers' rights: report
by Staff Writers
New York (AFP) Sept 4, 2012

Apple event invites hint at iPhone 5 debut
San Francisco (AFP) Sept 4, 2012 - Apple on Tuesday invited members of the media to a September 12 event in San Francisco for what is expected to be the debut of a new-generation iPhone.

Email invitations bore the cryptic message, "It's almost here," and a large number "12" casting a shadow that appeared to be the number five, suggesting that the event would spotlight the long-anticipated iPhone 5.

Leaks and rumors portray the new iPhone as having a larger touch-screen than its predecessor and that it will be available by the end of the month.

Demand for what is being referred to as "iPhone 5" is likely to be hot, with analysts convinced that many people in the market for handsets have put off purchases to wait for the latest offering from Apple.

"While our checks indicated consumers are delaying iPhone 4S purchases in anticipation of the iPhone 5, we anticipate an LTE iPhone 5 with a new hardware form factor will result in record iPhone sales," Canaccord Genuity brokerage firm said in a note to investors.

Apple shares rose to $674.18 then shed a few cents to $674 in trading that followed word of the event invitations.

Samsung mobile phones remained the most popular in the United States with 25.6 percent of the market but third-place Apple gained ground to claim 16.3 percent as of the end of July, according to industry tracker comScore.

LG ranked second with 18.4 percent of the US mobile phone market.

Smartphones powered by Google's Android software continued to dominate with 52.2 percent of the US market but Apple's iOS was the second most popular smartphone platform with 33.4 percent, comScore reported.

Apple is expected to host a separate media event in October to unveil a new, smaller version of its wildly popular iPad.

The 10-inch iPad has long dominated the tablet market, but faces a growing challenge from smaller models like Amazon's Kindle Fire, the Google Nexus 7 and the Samsung Galaxy.

Apple is expected to launch the miniature iPad later this year, with analysts saying it could allow the company to again best its global rivals despite the death last year of visionary founder Steve Jobs.

Samsung forces employees at its Chinese factories to work up to five times the legal overtime limit, bans them from sitting down and denies basic labor rights, according to a US-based watchdog.

According to China Labor Watch's probe of eight factories, the South Korean electronics giant is guilty of widespread "legal and inhumane violations."

These include forcing workers at the Tianjin Samsung Mobile Display factory to put in as many as 189 hours of overtime in a month, when the legal limit is 36 hours, according to a report released in New York.

Employees at the factories, making consumer products including cell phones, televisions, and refrigerators, regularly stand for 11 to 12 hours while working at a frantic pace, the 122-page report said.

For example, employees at the Suzhou Samsung Electronics Company facility have to assemble a nearly meter (three-foot) long panel and install two screws every nine seconds, while workers at Tianjin Intops, a supply factory, have to assemble a cell phone case every five seconds.

If workers wish to complain about mistreatment, they have no one to turn to, the report said.

"Workers lack any effective grievance channel by which to rectify these transgressions," China Labor Watch said.

The group probed six Samsung factories and two Samsung supplier plants by sending undercover investigators and interviewing employees outside the workplace.

There was no immediate response from Samsung. However, the Seoul-based corporation earlier on Tuesday responded to a separate report from China Labor Watch alleging that children under the age of 16 are employed at a supplier, HEG Electronics in Huizhou.

Samsung said it would inspect its nearly 250 Chinese partners.

"We are implementing a rigorous plan to address any potential violations," the company said in a statement, vowing to terminate contracts with any Chinese suppliers in violation of labor norms.

The on-site inspections will be carried out by a 100-member team by the end of September, it said.

Initial audits conducted by Samsung found HEG employed teenaged student workers and interns, but none younger than 16, the company said.

However, it did uncover a system of fines for lateness and absence -- banned in China -- as well as excessive overtime and inadequate health and safety standards.

According to China Labor Watch's new report, those types of practices are in fact widespread.

At four factories, workers "are forced to work overtime. Even if not forced, workers often have no choice but to work overtime because their base wages are too low to support themselves," it said.

Safety is given insufficient importance, according to the report, citing the case of workers at the Tianjin Intops plant "who come into contact with printing fumes (but) don't receive or wear protective masks."

At the same time, Samsung and its partner factories insist on what China Labor Watch calls "unfair or simply cruel" rules.

These range from counting sick days as work absences to strict rules about personal appearance, with Huizhou Samsung Electronics "reported as refusing to hire any person less than 1.55 meters (five feet) tall or that has tattoos, dyed hair, or physical disabilities."


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Apple event invites hint at iPhone 5 debut
San Francisco (AFP) Sept 4, 2012
Apple on Tuesday invited members of the media to a September 12 event in San Francisco for what is expected to be the debut of a new-generation iPhone. Email invitations bore the cryptic message, "It's almost here," and a large number "12" casting a shadow that appeared to be the number five, suggesting that the event would spotlight the long-anticipated iPhone 5. Leaks and rumors portra ... read more

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