ERJ staff report (PN)
Guangzhou, China - Ford Motor Co. said it is investigating allegations from an American labour rights group that one of its supplier factories in China had dangerous working conditions and violated labour laws.
The March 3 report from the Pittsburgh-based Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights said Dongguan Yuwei Plastics Hardware Product Co. Ltd., in Dongguan, Guangdong province, ordered workers to turn off basic safety equipment, maiming at least one worker, and did not provide basic safety training.
Ford said in a statement it takes the allegations seriously and is investigating.
â€œFord has a strong commitment to human rights and workplace safety, and we expect our suppliers to comply with local laws and our Code of Basic Working Conditions,â€ the company said. â€œWe require all of our suppliers to ensure that our products-no matter where they are made-are manufactured under conditions that demonstrate respect for the people who make them.â€
The company said it focused on training and education so that suppliers have proper management systems in place, and as of the end of 2010, had trained 41,700 workers and managers at Tier 1 suppliers in China, and those suppliers have helped train 2,785 people at Tier 2 firms in China.
The labour group's report said there were several instances of unsafe working conditions and law violations it found from talking to workers, and in one example, urged Yuwei and Ford to increase the compensation to a 21-year-old worker who had three fingers and several knuckles torn from his left hand in a punch press accident in 2009.
The worker received $7,400 for his injury, but the companies should pay $72,100, which is half what someone with a similar injury would receive in the US, the report said.
It said the higher amount should apply because some of the factory's production is exported to the US
In that case, the report said the worker was operating a punch press machine that was equipped with an infrared safety monitoring device to turn off the machine if hands or other objects entered dangerous areas.
But company managers ordered the infrared device turned off so that workers could maintain production, the report said.
After the metal stamping work was done, the part was sent to the factory's plastic injection molding department for further operations, the report said.
The labour group said it was aware of at least four serious injuries with maimed hands and fingers in the last several years and that minor injuries happen every month or two. It said that seriously injured workers are fired or forced from their jobs after one or two years.
It urged Ford to conduct a thorough investigation of Yuwei and insure that the infrared safety monitoring device on the punch press remains on.
â€œFord should not be complicit in the payment of below-subsistence wages and the suppression of local and internationally recognised worker rights standards, including the workers' right to organise an independent union,â€ the report said.
According to the report, workers at the factory earn a base pay of 80 cents an hour.
Yuwei, which was founded in 2000, has a US office and warehouse in Ann Arbor, Mich. On the website of its US subsidiary, CBC (USA) Inc., the company said it employed 350 workers at its factory and had sales of $15.8 million in 2009.
The labour group said about 80 percent of the factory's production is for Ford, but that it also works for Chrysler Group L.L.C., General Motors Co. and Volkswagen A.G.
From Plastics News Tire Business (A Crain publication)