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Child labor found in more Alabama auto suppliers

Four additional auto suppliers in Alabama have utilized child labor in recent years, investigative reporting conducted by Reuters found.

The father of a 14-year-old Guatemalan girl told Reuters his daughter worked this May at Hwashin America Corp. in Greenville, a supplier of the two car brands, assembling auto body components. The account was bolstered by interviews with law enforcement officials, the outlet reported.

A former production engineer and six other ex-employees at Ajin Industrial Corp., which holds plants in the Chambers County town of Cusseta, told Reuters that they worked alongside minors.

U.S. Labor Department and state officials arrived unannounced at Ajin on Aug. 22, individuals familiar with the situation told Reuters. When authorities arrived, workers rushed out of the factory before they could be questioned.

A spokesman with the Labor Department told Reuters that the agency’s Wage and Hour Division is investigating Ajin, but declined to confirm that the August probe was related to underage labor violations.

Ajin told the publication that it “will cooperate fully” with any investigation into the matter.

Hyundai and Kia, in statements to the outlet, said they were launching a probe into the hiring practices of their suppliers.

Hyundai said the South Korean automotive manufacturer “does not condone or tolerate violations of labor law” and requires that “our suppliers and business partners strictly adhere to the law.”

According to Reuters, Kia said it “strongly condemns any practice of child labor and does not tolerate any unlawful or unethical workplace practices internally or within our business partners and suppliers.”

The report follows a string of findings related to violations of child labor law in Alabama by automotive suppliers.

Previous reporting by the outlet in July unveiled that SMART Alabama LLC, a Hyundai subsidiary in the Crenshaw County town of Luverne, had employed multiple minors at its manufacturing facility.

SEE: Hyundai supplier’s reported use of migrant child labor highlights issue of exploitation

SL Alabama LLC, a Hyundai supplier owned by a South Korean automotive parts manufacturing company, in August admitted to employing children at its Alexander City facility.

Dylan Smith is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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