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Major Auto Brands Associated with Forced Labor in Uyghur Region | Marketing

International automakers such as Honda, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz Group, Volkswagen Audi Group, Toyota, Tesla, Renault, NIO, and Stellantis Group are supplying forced labor in the Uighur region. I have a chain link. That’s according to Driving Force, a new report released last week by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University’s Helena Kennedy Center for International Justice.

In a six-month study that analyzed publicly available documents, investigators identified Western car brands as being in everything from bonnet decals and car frame manufacturing to engine casings, interiors and electronics. We found a large and growing link between Uyghur exploitation.

In total, the report found that 100 automakers sourced from companies in the Uyghur region. Of these 100, 38 document involvement in labor transfer programs. These transfer programs have been described as “abusive” because they aim to thin out minority populations.

These transfer programs are classified as “forced labor”. motion I understand that 100,000 Uyghur workers have been transferred from Xinjiang to other provinces in recent years. As a result, the Uyghur population in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is declining. Between 2017 and 2019, an estimated 80,000 Uyghurs were deported from Xinjiang and assigned to factories across China under a central government policy known as Xinjiang Aid.

Some have described this as “forced labor and forced displacement,” which could be classified as crimes against humanity by international courts.

“It’s been four years since everyone knew there was forced labor in the Uyghur region,” said Laura T. Murphy, professor of human rights and modern slavery at Sheffield Hallam University. Campaign Asia Pacific“There is no longer any excuse for not being aware of exposures from the Uyghur region for any company, especially those with the resources that major automakers have. provides a jump start for

The report describes the growing production of auto parts and materials in the Uyghur region, chronicles the abuses committed by large industry players, and through direct and indirect supply chain links, the abuses of these companies. We trace our products to western car brands.

The report reveals that all major traditional and electric vehicle manufacturers are subjected to forced labor in the Uyghur region. The findings also show that automakers source electronics from companies that employ trafficked Uyghurs in factories in other parts of China. Some are unknowingly sourcing metal from the Uyghur region because metal trading companies own shares in Xinjiang smelters.

Uyghurs are most exposed to human rights abuses in the steel and aluminum used to manufacture automobile frames, axles, bodies, engine casings, wheels and brakes. The world’s largest steel and aluminum producers have moved to the Uyghur region under Chinese government subsidies and incentives. But tires, interiors, windshields, batteries, and practically every other major part are also involved.

As many as 100,000 Uyghur workers have been transferred from Xinjiang to other provinces in recent years. (Getty Images)

How will car brands react?

motion Asia Pacific has reached out to the automakers involved in the report for comment.

The Stellantis Group (Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep) said it is currently investigating the allegations made in the report and is responding to its supply base.

“At Stellantis, we take these issues very seriously,” says Group Communications Director Jeremy Townsend. “We have global responsible purchasing guidelines that are strictly followed when awarding direct supplier contracts with us. Building a strong and responsible supply chain is important to us. We monitor our suppliers’ adherence to our Code of Conduct and respect for human rights by requiring contractual commitments and ongoing evaluations.”

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz also responded to our request for comment by saying that it takes such reports very seriously.

“Mercedes-Benz does not have direct operations in the regions mentioned,” said Benjamin Kraft, Group Communications Manager. “Mercedes-Benz strives to use only materials that are mined and produced without violating human rights or environmental standards in its products. Mercedes-Benz conducts regular spot checks with its suppliers in China and other countries. are doing.”

In a statement issued last week, General Motors said, “We actively monitor our global supply chain and conduct extensive due diligence, especially when we identify or become aware of potential violations of law, contracts or policies. are being implemented,” he said.

Volkswagen Group said motion: “If the Volkswagen Group becomes aware of any allegations, we will immediately investigate them using the ‘Supply Chain Grievance Mechanism’. Serious violations, such as forced labor, can lead to termination of contracts with suppliers if mitigation measures fail.

But Murphy, who led the Driving Force Report’s research team, said no automaker had yet confirmed it would release its supply chain from the Uyghur region.

“All the companies that responded to me indicated that they do not intend to source products made with forced labor and that they intend to comply with all laws,” Murphy says. No one is bold enough to say that they are clearly working to pull out the supply chain.”

Meanwhile, the report urges the auto industry to act quickly because it “cannot wait another day to trace its supply chain back to raw materials.” Anything less than full tracking is a huge legal, ethical, and reputational risk.

Based on the severity and prevalence of forced labor identified in the report, and the extent to which it is prevalent in automotive supply chains, Murphy and the research team recommend auto brands to investigate further.

“Trace your supply chain to raw materials,” says Murphy. “We will terminate all contracts with suppliers that engage in or source from the Uyghur region in any way and work together across the sector to ensure that no forced labor is tolerated throughout our value chain.”

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