I asked several public relations pros in greater China about how these companies beat the labor NGO rap, and no one answered. Trade secret?
Drawing on my years as a reporter, I'd guess first that general news audiences are fatigued by the China labor rights story. They've heard it before and may realize, too, that Chinese workers are earning more money now than a decade ago. It would be different if workers were striking at factories in, say, North Korea.
Secondly, MNCs stung in labor rights reports usually respond before a case leaches too far into the media or stops work for too costly a period of time. They often blame contractors, a way to own up (better than a denial) without owning up.
Samsung, the world's biggest smartphone maker, acknowledged labor problems at factories run by suppliers shortly after the NGO report came out. The company said it had checked out 105 Chinese suppliers and would give those suspected of poor labor practices two years to change, the official
newspaper reported. Samsung also called reducing overtime a priority.
Anyway, Samsung earned revenue of 165 trillion won (US$152 billion) last year and 145 trillion won in the first nine months of this year, with higher profits compared to the first three quarters of 2011. You might see a blip or a dip in the fourth-quarter financials following the stir over its China factories, but it's not worth selling shares over. Or you might see more growth in revenue and profits.
At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.