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“Forced labor damages reputation”: IG Metall boss saws at VW plant in China

“Forced labor damages reputation”
IG Metall lug saws at the VW plant in China

A data leak occupies huge forced labor camps in the Chinese Uyghur province of Xinjiang. IG Metall is now increasing the pressure on VW to close its plant there. The automaker claims it does not employ forced labor per se.

In the debate over a Volkswagen-run plant in the Uyghur region of China, pressure is mounting on the automaker. IG Metall chief Jörg Hofmann, who sits on the supervisory board of the Wolfsburg group, has questioned VW’s activities there. “In the meantime, there is no doubt that human rights violations are taking place in Xinjiang,” the union chief told the “Wolfsburger Nachrichten”. Therefore, the group council has to address this issue. There is currently no indication that human rights violations have occurred at VW itself. “However, the general question to ask is what it means for the company’s reputation to continue investing there,” Hofmann, VW’s vice chairman of the supervisory board, told the newspaper.

Social Democratic Prime Minister of Lower Saxony Stephan Weil, who sits on the monitoring committee as the state representative with 20 percent voting rights in VW, said: “The pictures and reports of grave human rights violations against the Uyghur minority in China’s Xinjiang region is shocking. ” So far, however, there is no evidence that human rights or labor rights have been violated at the VW plant. “However, this does not relieve society of its duty to intensively address the issue and carefully examine the allegations about the human rights situation, which will also be done.”

VW: No own employees interned in the camps

Volkswagen said in a statement quoted by the newspaper: “We are not aware of any cases in which employees of the Volkswagen company Saic have been or are in detention camps.” Asked, the group added: “In talks with the Chinese government, all the important issues that are important to our business are addressed.” Critical issues are also not excluded.

The company stressed that it has previously publicly made clear that it has taken a global stance against forced labor in connection with its business activities. “As a global company, the Volkswagen Group stands for individual freedom, fair working conditions, open world trade, economic development and peaceful coexistence.” The group expects the values ​​and standards to be met by its local business partners as well.

“Don’t just look into your yard”

Hofmann said in the interview that Volkswagen can not only look at what’s going on in its “front yard”, it also has to pay attention to which “street” you live on. “When human rights violations visibly occur left and right, I demand action.” The group must position itself visibly and unambiguously against human rights violations.

China is Volkswagen’s largest sales market. The group has been running a factory in the city of Urumqi together with the state-owned company Saic since 2013. Wolfsburg residents have long been criticized for their presence in the Uyghur province, but have repeatedly denied it on the grounds that their presence there helps improve the situation. of the population.

The Uyghur Muslim minority, oppressed by the Chinese state, lives in the Xinjiang region of northwest China. Recently, reports and photos of internment camps made headlines. There was also talk of a secret order to shoot in the fields. The Federal Ministry of Economy recently turned down Volkswagen’s investment guarantees for China in connection with human rights violations. The presidium of the supervisory board should also be addressed on the subject, which according to insiders will meet next week. The Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, Weil, also sits on the committee. In October, a new state parliament will be elected in the federal state.

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