Friday, March 04, 2011

China: Lost Fingers Come Cheap at Ford Sweatshop Supplier in China

Today the Institute for Global Labour & Human Rights (formerly National Labor Committee) is releasing a new in-depth report "Dirty Parts/Where Lost Fingers Come Cheap: Ford in China." which documents worker rights violations—including workers maimed when factory management turned off critical safety equipment—at the Yuwei Plastics and Hardware Products company in Dongguan, China. According to workers, 80 percent of the factory's production is for Ford. The Yuwei factory has a U.S. office and warehouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Workers earn a base wage of just 80 cents an hour, working 14-hour shifts and 7 days a week. During the peak season, workers toil 30 days a month, often drenched in their own sweat. Prospective hires are told they must "work hard and endure hardship."

On March 13, 2009, 21-year-old Worker "A" had three fingers and several knuckles torn from his left hand when it was crushed in a stamping machine. He was making "RT Tubes" for export to Ford. Management deliberately instructed the worker to turn off the infrared safety monitoring system so he could work faster. "We had to turn it off. My boss did not let me turn it on," said Worker A. He had to stamp out 3,600 "RT Tubes" a day, one every 12 seconds.

We are aware of at least four serious injuries—maimed hands and fingers—over the last several years. Seriously injured workers are fired. New workers receive no training or safety instruction before being assigned to operate dangerous machinery.

Worker A received a total payment of just $7,430 for the loss of three fingers, leaving his hand basically inoperative. Workers Compensation for a similar accident in the U.S. would result in a $144,292 payment.

"While millions of democracy advocates are launching protests across the Middle East and North Africa, workers at the Yuwei factory have never heard of a 'union' and have no idea what a union is or how it could help them," said Charles Kernaghan, director of the Institute for Global Labour & Human Rights (formerly the National Labor Committee).

Kernaghan is asking Ford to pay Worker A an additional workers compensation payment of $72,126.40, which is just half of what workers compensation would be in the U.S.

"Ford," Kernaghan said, "should not be complicit in the payment of below subsistence wages and the suppression of local and internationally recognized worker rights standards."


Source: Institute for Global Labour & Human Rights/National Labor Committe