Hyundai Motor Company chief operating officer Jose Munoz said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday that the company plans to cut ties with two Alabama suppliers who allegedly used child labor at their facilities, with the COO ordering a further investigation of all U.S-based suppliers.
Munoz’s comments come a week after the Alabama Department of Labor levied child labor violations against SL Alabama LLC, one of the two suppliers who used allegedly underage workers at their facilities.
The U.S. Department of Labor is still investigating the alleged use of child labor at the SMART Alabama metal stamping plant in Luverne, which was first revealed by Reuters in July.
At the same time, SOC Investment Group, a financial group that works with pensions for unions affiliated with the Strategic Organizing Center coalition, penned an open letter to the management of the Korean auto-maker stating that “investors are concerned about the lack of human and labor rights oversight at Hyundai” after revelations of the use of child labor at supplier facilities.
“In the U.S. system, oftentimes the monetary risk for labor rights violations is relatively small so it might be seen as a cost of doing business,” said SOC Investment Group’s Executive Director Dieter Waizenegger in a statement obtained by APR. “I think investors like us need to step out and say, ‘the value of the fines is not capturing your risk even remotely. Your product might be tinged for a long time.'”
In Alabama, a coalition of over twenty community activist groups released their own open letter to Hyundai Motor of North America in late September, demanding the company stop using child labor and enter into negotiations for a community benefits agreement.