Ford Motor Co. said it is investigating allegations by an American labor rights group that one of its supplier factories in China had dangerous working conditions and violated labor laws.
The March 3 report from the Pittsburgh-based Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights said Dongguan Yuwei Plastics Hardware Product Co. Ltd., in Dongguan ordered workers to turn off basic safety equipment, resulting in the maiming at least one worker, and did not provide basic safety training.
Ford said in a statement that it takes the allegations seriously and is investigating.
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, the company said. 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.
The company said it focuses on training and education so that suppliers have proper management systems in place. As of the end of 2010, it had trained 41,700 workers and managers at Tier 1 suppliers in China.
Those suppliers have helped train 2,785 people at Tier 2 firms in China, Ford said.
The labor group's report said there were several instances of unsafe working conditions and law violations that it found from talking to workers. In one example, the group said it urged Yuwei and Ford to increase the compensation to a 21-year-old worker who had three fingers and several knuckles torn from his left hand in a punch press accident in 2009.
The worker received $7,400 for his injury, but the companies should pay $72,100, which is half what someone with a similar injury would receive in the U.S., according to the report. It said the higher amount should apply because some of the factory's production is exported to the U.S.
In that case, the report said the worker was operating a punch press machine that was equipped with an infrared safety-monitoring device to turn off the machine if hands or other objects entered dangerous areas. But company managers ordered the infrared device turned off so workers could maintain production, the report said.
After the metal-stamping work was done, the part was sent to the factory's plastic injection molding department for further operations, the report said.
The labor group said it is aware of at least four serious injuries with maimed hands and fingers in the last several years and that minor injuries happen every month or two. It said seriously injured workers are fired or forced from their jobs after one or two years.