HomeCommunity IssuesHyundai to end ties with US supplier over child labor violations

Hyundai to end ties with US supplier over child labor violations

Hyundai Motors plans to end its relationship with two Alabama-based suppliers over alleged child labor violations.

Through an investigative report conducted in July, Reuters found that children, including a 12-year-old, were working at a Hyundai-controlled metal stamping plant in rural Luverne, Alabama, called SMART Alabama, LLC.

Jose Munoz, the global chief operating officer of South Korea’s top automaker, told Reuters that the company is currently investigating the child labor violations in its American supply chain and plans to “sever ties” with the suppliers in Alabama.

AutoNews reports that in August, authorities accused SL Alabama, another supplier for the company, of violating child labor laws in federal court. SL Alabama supplies lights and mirrors for Hyundai and Kia assembly plants in the United States.

In a statement to Reuters, SL Alabama said it cooperated with regulators and terminated its relationship with the employment firm. The company has also agreed to fines and removed the president of the facility.

According to Business Insider, the U.S. Department of Labor fined SL Alabama over $30,000. The Alabama Department of Labor also fined the company and the staffing agency $17,800 each for violating child-labor laws. 

The Business Insider article revealed that SL Alabama allegedly hired three workers, a 13-year-old and two 15-year-olds, who operated plastic bonding machines.

The company did not obtain proper child labor permits for those workers. Alabama labor laws require factory workers to be at least 18 years old.

Motor1 reports that SL Alabama has hired a law firm to conduct an audit of their company, while Smart Alabama has been silent regarding the alleged violations.

Kia Georgia told Business Insider that their company “doesn’t tolerate unlawful or unethical workplace practices internally or from its business partners and suppliers.” 

A Hyundai spokesperson said that the company would “continue to closely review the labor operations of its suppliers” to ensure full compliance with all laws, according to Business Insider.

Regulators did not accuse Hyundai and Kia of wrongdoing in the case.

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