First of all, the National Labor Committee says that less than 15 percent of its money comes from labor unions. So this is not a United Auto Workers' front organization. Second, in a phone call [below] Director Charles Kernaghan was clear that Toyota's Japanese factories adhere to the country's labor laws (even though you may be surprised to learn that ToMoCo's been on a two-tier wage system for decades). Kernaghan's beef is with the automaker's suppliers. "Toyota's much admired 'Just in Time' auto parts supply chain is riddled with sweatshop abuse," he insists. "Including the trafficking of foreign guest workers, mostly from China and Vietnam to Japan. They're stripped of their passports and often forced to work– including at subcontract plants supplying Toyota– 16 hours a day, seven days a week, while being paid less than half the legal minimum wage. Guest workers who complain about abusive conditions are deported." The organization's report is low on stats, big on anecdotes and focused on pious Prius celebs. And yet, it's a point we've brought up before. International automakers'– and their customers'– willingness to turn a blind eye to their suppliers' working conditions is a black eye for the business– albeit one cleverly covered by makeup.
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