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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Investors and Unions Pressure Hyundai to Address Child Labour at U.S. Suppliers

Ira Gabriel welcomed the federal settlement negotiated between the U.S. Department of Labor and SL Alabama

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UNITED STATES: An organisation that works with union pension funds is putting pressure on Hyundai Motor Co. to respond to allegations of child labour at American part suppliers and is threatening to harm the Korean automaker’s reputation if it doesn’t.

In a sharply worded letter to company chairman Euisun Chung on Wednesday, SOC Investment Group, which works with union pension funds with more than $250 billion in assets, expressed investors’ concerns that revealed child labour at a Hyundai subsidiary in Alabama.

A recent federal and state inquiry into juveniles working at another Hyundai supplier in the state was also mentioned in the letter.

According to the letter from the organisation that offers guidance on corporate accountability concerns, “child labour and poor workplace health and safety have regulatory and legal repercussions for Hyundai in the U.S. and can cause reputational damage across the globe.”

The letter encouraged Hyundai’s board of directors to supervise the company’s response and outlined a number of initiatives, such as an independent review of human and labour rights hazards throughout the supply chain with conclusions that would be made public, as well as continued monitoring.

Early in the year, people became aware of child labour issues at SMART Alabama LLC, which is owned by Hyundai.

Then, in August, the U.S. Department of Labor and SL Alabama, a Korean-operated parts supplier and a division of Korea’s SL Corp, reached a settlement after officials discovered juveniles as young as 13 working there.

The supplier altered its leadership and added more screening to its labour policies, according to Hyundai spokesperson Ira Gabriel, who also emphasised that the firm welcomed the federal settlement negotiated between the U.S. Department of Labor and SL Alabama.

Gabriel added that “SMART Alabama has discontinued all ties with an outside staffing firm.”

According to Gabriel in an email, “Hyundai will continue to closely review the labour operations of its suppliers to ensure full compliance with all local, state, and federal laws.”

Following a public reprimand last week from United Auto Workers (UAW) union leaders and a letter to the company from more than two dozen local and national advocacy groups and unions in September calling for a stop to child labour practices, SOC sent a letter to the company this month.

Also Read: U.S. Authorities Accuse a Hyundai Supplier of Employing Underage Labor

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