The exploding Note 7 is no surprise – leaked Samsung doc highlights toxic internal culture
Exec-only presentation encourages intimidation of staff
A leaked presentation to Samsung executives has provided further insight into the company's damaged internal culture.
The PowerPoint document focuses on strategies to prevent the creation of labor unions at the South Korean company and takes a very aggressive stance, treating employees as enemies and suggesting "countermeasures" as well as ways to "dominate employees."
It also talks about "punishing" union leaders, isolating "troublesome" employees and "inducing internal conflicts" as a way of intimidating employees and preventing the creation of unions. The presentation is also dismissive of labor laws and government ministers that have proposed changes to protect employees.
The presentation [PPT] [PDF] is dated 2012, but appears to have been used repeatedly by Samsung executives up until two years ago. It was unearthed by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which drew a direct line between the approach demonstrated in the presentation and the recent aborted launch of the Galaxy Note 7 due to exploding batteries.
"Inhumane conditions are rife" at the company, the ITUC reports, noting that Samsung employees are overworked, under-paid and forced to suffer appalling conditions, including "standing for 11 to 12 hours, verbal and physical abuse, severe age and gender discrimination, and lack of worker safety."
It quotes one worker who claimed that during an intense three-month period in the run-up to the release of a Galaxy tablet she slept only two or three hours a night and had to give up breastfeeding her three-month-old baby as a result.
While the presentation takes a relentlessly aggressive stance toward the creation of labor unions – in fact the entire purpose of the presentation appears to be to develop greater coordination across all departments into order to squash them – it also makes clear that the company is aware of problems with its internal culture.
In a series of remarkable slides, it lists the insults that senior executives have been heard to hurl at employees. A vice-president of its electronics division is quoted as having said: "Fuckheads, you've never gotten what I'm saying" to employees, among other aggressive insults.
The executive director of the company's lighting division is quoted as having said: "Bitch, fuckin' asshole, I'll rip your trap. You've got to be careful," and "You, son of a bitch, why didn't you do what I'd ordered?"
Yet another executive is quoted as calling an employee a "fucking asshole" and threatening to keep an eye on another.
Amazingly, the presentation also includes the aggressive and unhappy responses from a senior executive to another senior exec because he didn't like the way he was treating employees. "When I saw you treating researchers like slaves, my blood boiled," he said. "I'll leave this dirty company, dirty organization with no regrets."