Reuters: Child workers found throughout Hyundai-Kia supply chain in Alabama

Reuters website has posted, “At least four major suppliers of Hyundai Motor Co and sister Kia Corp have employed child labor at Alabama factories in recent years, a Reuters investigation found, and state and federal agencies are probing whether kids have worked at as many as a half dozen additional manufacturers throughout the automakers’ supply chain in the southern U.S. state.”

“At a plant owned by Hwashin America Corp, a supplier to the two car brands in the south Alabama town of Greenville, a 14-year-old Guatemalan girl worked this May assembling auto body components, according to interviews with her father and law enforcement officials. At plants owned by Korean auto-parts maker Ajin Industrial Co, in the east Alabama town of Cusseta, a former production engineer told Reuters he worked with at least 10 minors. And six other ex-employees of Ajin said they, too, worked alongside multiple underage laborers.”

“The employment of children at Hwashin and Ajin hasn’t been previously reported. The news follows a Reuters report in July that revealed the use of child workers, one as young as 12, by SMART Alabama LLC, a Hyundai subsidiary in the south Alabama town of Luverne. In August, the U.S. Department of Labor said that SL Alabama LLC, another Hyundai supplier and a unit of South Korea’s SL Corp, employed underage workers, including a 13-year-old, at its factory in Alexander City.”

“After the earlier reporting by Reuters on child labor at suppliers SMART and SL, Hyundai’s chief operating officer, José Muñoz, told the news agency he ordered the carmaker’s purchasing department to cease business with the suppliers named in the news reports “as soon as possible.” He also said the company would investigate all suppliers to Hyundai’s Alabama operations. Hyundai, Muñoz added, would seek to end the use of third-party staffing agencies that many of its suppliers have relied upon to vet and hire workers.”

“Hyundai is now backing away from Muñoz’s remarks.”

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