Another report alleges to have discovered child labor in even more car part factories in the state.
The report, by Reuters, claims two more major suppliers of Hyundai and Kia have recently employed underaged workers, and federal and state law enforcement is investigating as many as six more.
Reuters interviewed over 100 current and former factory employees, labor recruiters, state and federal officials and others and reviewed thousands of pages of public records in its reporting.
Their findings claim that Hwashin America Corp of Greenville and Ajin Industrial Co. of Cusseta have employed minors.
The report said that Hwashin hired a 14-year-old Guatemalan girl to assemble auto body components and that a former production engineer and other ex-employees at Ajin claimed to have worked alongside minors.
When federal and state inspectors arrived at Ajin’s factory in August to perform a surprise inspection, workers were said to have rushed out of the factory before they could be questioned.
Statements for both manufacturers were issued by the same public relations firm, claiming Hwashin and Ajin policies forbid child labor and that the companies hadn’t “to the best of [their] knowledge” hired children.
Two Hyundai suppliers, SMART Alabama LLC and SL Alabama have already been accused of using underaged workers. The U.S. Department of Labor has already charged SL with child labor law violations.
Hyundai announced its intention to drop the suppliers in October, but the report claims Hyundai is now backing away from its statements.
Hyundai said SMART and SL have taken “corrective actions” against the staffing agencies they were using.
The report claims that staffing agencies played a pivotal role in hiring illegal immigrants from Central America, and some of the children hired by the suppliers were using false identities, which the staffing firms sometimes helped them obtain.
The nationwide labor shortage might also play a role.
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