National Labor Committee Alleges Toyota Supplier Sweatshops

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
national labor committee alleges toyota supplier sweatshops

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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  • Quasimondo Quasimondo on Jun 20, 2008
    Is the U.S. solely responsible for everything bad? Yes. I call it the 'six-degrees of America' theory. This theory states that every bad thing in the world can be traced back to the American government, an American company, or Americans themselves in six steps or less.

  • Reclusive_in_nature Reclusive_in_nature on Jun 20, 2008

    Great article. Just when I think this site is unfairly biased to foreign brands you go and do this...... AND COMPLETELY REDEEM YOURSELVES!! Good job.

  • Ra_pro Ra_pro on Jun 21, 2008

    "Workers of the world unite", somebody, who many consider a moron, called Karl Marx said some time ago. Can someone explain to me where exactly is this slogan wrong?

  • Marc Marc on Jun 23, 2008

    I'm glad TTAC took some time to analyze this before just haphazardly reporting it as other websites have done. On those sites I have posted my same critique... "low on stats, big on anecdotes" The evidence is very shaky. Furthermore TTAC poits out that this is not about Toyota, but about suppliers. So this is even a bigger problem with this article. Everyone is guilty of all of these shady corporate practices. I did a little research into just the Myanmar allegation. NLC found one Toyota supplier (partly owned by Toyota) that does business with Myanmar. But so do Daewoo (GM), Siemens (parts for MBZ, Porsche and BMW), Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Tata, Chevron, Maersk (who ships cars for, well, who dont they ship cars for??). But Toyotas are driven by celebrities. See the connection. As for labor issues, again this is an industry wide problem. Building cars in China, Mexico, how do you think those labor conditions are? No, this piece was pure propaganda. I'm pro-union, anti-corporation. My values are aligned quite closely with what NLC supports. But these PR, celeb-driven pieces disgust me. They're no better than Access Hollywood, Perez Hilton, local news during sweeps week, the Enquirer, and all the other sensationalistic "journalism" that passes for real news. You want to know whats going on, rent "The Corporation."