Report: Hyundai and Kia Suppliers Employed Minors in Alabama

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague
report hyundai and kia suppliers employed minors in alabama

Hyundai and Kia are quickly becoming two of the world’s most prominent automakers, but the Korean giants have struggled to get a handle on reports of child labor in their suppliers’ factories. Reporting surfaced earlier this year, and today, Reuters released its findings that child labor has been found in as many as 10 Alabama facilities belonging to the automakers’ suppliers.

Four major suppliers to the companies have employed child labor in recent years, according to a Reuters investigation. Authorities are looking closely at a half-dozen other companies for signs of child labor. One facility, owned by Hwashin America Corp, was found to have employed a 14-year-old Guatemalan girl in parts assembly. Employees at another plant owned by Ajin Industrial Co told Reuters they worked with several minors. 

Hyundai and Kia both have human rights policies prohibiting underaged labor, which extends to suppliers. Labor laws set the minimum age for factory workers at 16, and employees must be 18 before working riskier jobs, such as the ones typically found in an automotive manufacturing facility. In other child labor cases, minors were found to have falsified documents, and many others were undocumented.

Hyundai COO Jose Munoz initially said the company would stop working with the named suppliers as soon as possible, but the automaker has since shelved those plans. Instead, suppliers have taken action to cut ties with sketchy staffing agencies. Still, the financial incentive to get as many bodies into factories as possible is strong, so the automaker has plenty of work to do.

[Image: Hyundai]

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