Today the National Labor Committee (NLC) is releasing a 65-page report, “The Toyota You Don’t Know” documenting serious human rights violations by the Toyota Motor Company, which will disturb most Americans.

“Celebrities like Julia Roberts, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pit, Bill Maher and others have led the way in turning Toyota’s Prius into a symbol of concern for our environment,” said Charles Kernaghan, director of the NLC, “We hope that these same celebrities will now also challenge Toyota to improve its respect for human and worker rights. As a start, Toyota should cut its ties to the Burmese dictators and end the exploitation of foreign guest workers trafficked to Japan.”

* Toyota linked to human trafficking and sweatshop abuse: Toyota’s much admired “Just in Time” auto parts supply chain is riddled with sweatshop abuse, including the trafficking of foreign guest workers, mostly from China and Vietnam to Japan, who are stripped of their passports and often forced to work–including at subcontract plants supplying Toyota–16 hours a day, seven days a week, while being paid less than half the legal minimum wage. Guest workers who complain about abusive conditions are deported.

* Prius made by low-wage temps: Fully one-third–10,000–of all Toyota assembly line workers in Japan are low-wage temps who have few rights and earn less than 60% of what full time workers do.

* Unpaid overtime and “overworked” to death: Mr. Kenichi Uchino was just 30 years old when he died of overwork on an assembly line at Toyota’s Prius plant, leaving behind his young wife and two children. Mr. Uchino routinely worked 13 to 14 hours a day, putting in 106 1/2 to 155 hours of overtime–depending on whether work taken home was counted–in the 30 days leading up to his death. Toyota claimed that he had only worked 45 hours of overtime and that the other 61 1/2 to 110 hours were “voluntary” and unpaid. His wife had to go to court — which ruled that Mr. Uchino was overworked to death — to win a pension for their children.

* Ties to Burmese dictators: Toyota, through the Toyota Tsusho Corporation, which is part of the Toyota Group of Companies, is involved in several joint business ventures with the ruthless military regime in Burma. The dictators use these revenues to repress and torture the people of Burma.

* Toyota and the race to the bottom: Toyota is imposing its two-tier, low wage model at its non-union plants in the south of the United States, which will result in wages and benefits being slashed across the entire auto industry.

The National Labor Committee recently documented how the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement descended into human trafficking with tens of thousands of foreign guest workers held under conditions of involuntary servitude.

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Toyota Linked to Human Trafficking and Sweatshop Abuses

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