Demand Volvo and Kia Motors End Reliance on Slave Labor

by: Pauline Eccles

Target: Volvo CEO Martin Lundstedt, Kia Motors CEO Han Wu Park

Goal: End all business with car wash companies that use slave labor and better vet companies for worker abuses.

Shocking reports reveal that auto giants have turned a blind eye to slave labor in their supply chains. Workers at a carwash in Kent, southeast England, used by Kia and Volvo dealerships, claim to work 12-13 hour shifts for half the legal minimum wage. They live in squalid conditions on site and suffer physical and verbal abuse. These people are eastern Europeans, mostly Romanians, who do not speak English, and are suspected to be victims of human trafficking.

Legislation coming into effect this month obliges companies with turnover of over $51.7 million to publish a slavery statement every fiscal year, outlining policies in place to ensure quality working conditions. Car washes have been identified as hotspots for worker exploitation. Despite obvious concerns over the very real phenomena of modern slave labor, Volvo and Kia Motors have failed to exercise their due diligence in all aspects of their production. The fact that both companies have been exposed in the same month as the passing of new anti-slavery laws casts doubt over the automotive industry’s capacity to meet ethical standards.

USA Hand Car Wash, the site of discovery for these cases of modern slavery, is just one of over 20,000 unregistered car washes across Britain, with large numbers being hired by car dealerships that benefit from the cheap service. This process of exploitation on the part of leading international companies is disgraceful. Spokespeople for the automotive juggernauts have confirmed the launching of an investigation into these reports–efforts that are too little, too late.

Anyone who has driven, ridden in, or even shared the road with automobiles manufactured by Volvo or Kia Motors should take this opportunity to condemn the companies for deceitful and inhumane practices. Sign the petition below to voice your outrage at their lack of concern for basic workers’ rights.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Martin Lundstedt and Han Wu Park,

Details emerging over the past week tell the story of conditions that equate to modern slavery being condoned by your company. Workers at a car wash in Kent, England, have been revealed to live in appalling conditions, receive less than half the legal minimum wage, and suffer abuse at the hands of their employers. The slave labor forced out of these workers has been capitalized on at one of your local dealerships.

How can a major firm in an important global industry be so negligent of such gross misconduct? Though legislation coming into effect this month in England places an emphasis on anti-slavery precautions by mandating that companies with large turnover publish an annual slavery statement, you and your business seem to have missed the memo. Claiming ignorance about your establishment’s role in the slavery ring does not constitute an excuse–you are obligated to know who cleans your cars and what conditions they work under.

I am demanding that you immediately require all licensed dealerships to strictly monitor all aspects of the services they utilize in the maintenance of their product. You owe this course of action to the consumers you have deceived and the workers you have exploited. 

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Pauline Eccles

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