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Ford accused of violating workers' rights at Chinese supply plant

by Drew Johnson

Things may be going well for Ford here in the U.S., but the Michigan automaker is being accused of human rights violation in China.

Ford has been one of the most praised automakers over the last few months, but the Blue Oval has landed in some hot water over alleged human rights violations at one of its Chinese suppliers.

Pittsburgh-based Institute for Global Labour & Human Rights has released a report called "Dirty Parts/Where Lost Fingers Come Cheap: Ford in China" accusing Ford of sub-par safety standards at one of its Chinese suppliers, Dongguan Yuwei Plastics and Hardware Products Co. in Dongguan, China. About 80 percent of the plant's production goes to Ford.

The report claims that in March 2009 a plant worker's hand was crushed in a stamping while making parts for Ford. The plant's management reportedly ordered the worker to turn off the machine's infrared safety monitoring system so parts could be produced faster. The worker lost three fingers in the incident.

The report goes on to list four other serious injuries at the plant, with several of those workers fired soon after sustaining their injuries.

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

Ford says it is taking the alleged violations very seriously.

"Ford 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," Ford spokesman Todd Nissen wrote to Automotive News in an email. "We 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."

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