March, 01 2011 |  Download PDF |  Share

Dirty Parts/Where Lost Fingers Come Cheap: Ford in China

 In the global sweatshop economy, life, and lost fingers, come cheap.

Executive Summary

 by Charles Kernaghan

The Yuwei Plastics and Hardware Product Company Ltd in Dongguan, China produces auto parts for export to Ford which, according to workers, accounts for 80 percent of total production.  The Yuwei factory has a U.S. office and warehouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

  • Workers earn a base wage of just 80 cents an hour, while working 14-hour shifts, seven days a week. During the peak season, workers will toil 30 days a month, often drenched in their own sweat. Prospective hires are told they must "work hard and endure hardship."
  • On March 13, 2009, twenty-one year old Worker "A" had three fingers and several knuckles torn from his left hand when it was trapped in a powerful punch press, or stamping machine. He was making "RT Tubes" for export to Ford at the time of his accident. Management deliberately instructed the worker to turn off the infrared safety monitor device so he could work faster. "We had to turn it off. My boss did not let me turn it on," said Worker A. He had to stamp out 3,600 "RT Tubes" a day, one every 12 seconds.
  • We are aware of at least four serious injuries-maimed hands and fingers-over the last several years. "Minor" injuries occur every one or two months. Seriously injured workers are fired after a year or two.
  • New workers receive no training or safety instructions before being assigned to operate dangerous machinery.
  • Worker A received a total compensation payment of just $7,430 for the loss of three fingers, leaving his hand basically inoperative. In the U.S., Workers Compensation for a similar injury would result in a $144,292 payment. Worker A was also shortchanged of his severance pay before he was fired.
  • If a worker misses one day's work, as punishment he will be docked three days' wages.
  • While millions of democracy advocates are launching protests across the Middle East and North Africa, workers at the Yuwei factory have never heard the word "union" and have no idea what a union is or how it could help them.
  • Ford must immediately conduct a thorough inspection of the Yuwei factory. The infrared safety monitoring system must never again be shut off, especially on the dangerous punch press machines.
  • Factory management and Ford must provide additional compensation to Worker A of $72,126, which is just one half what workers compensation in the U.S. would be.
  • Local and internationally recognized worker rights standards must be respected.


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