The Toyota You Don’t Know

* Toyota linked to human trafficking and sweatshop abuse;
* Ties to Burmese dictators;
* 10,000 low-wage temps;
* Unpaid overtime and overworked to death;
* Cited by the ILO for repression of freedom of association;
* Lowering wages and benefits across the U.S. auto industry.

On Wednesday the National Labor Committee (NLC) released a 65-page report, “The Toyota You Don’t Know,” documenting serious human rights violations by the Toyota Motor Company, which will surprise and 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.”

The NLC report-which appears to be the first serious research in 35 years on Toyota’s labor practices in Japan and the developing world-documents the following violations:

  • 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 earn less than 60 percent of what full time workers do, and even less when benefits are included. Temps have few rights and are hired on contracts lasting as little as four months.
  • 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, who were one and three. Mr. Uchino routinely worked 13 to 14 hours a day, putting in 106 ½ to 155 hours of overtime-depending upon 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 ½ to 110 hours were of a “voluntary nature” 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.
  • Repression of freedom of association: Toyota was cited by the ILO as, “…a multinational company, apparently with little regard for corporate responsibility…” for its role in suppressing freedom of association at its plant in the Philippines, where Toyota fired 227 workers for daring to exercise their legal right to organize.
  • 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.

Access the new NLC Toyota report at:
Or via the NLC’s home page:

7 Responses

  1. Hi, nice post. I have been wondering about this topic,so thanks for writing. Ill definitely be subscribing to your posts. Keep up great writing

  2. You have made this old man love reading on the internet again. I was searching your topic on yahoo and you actually gave me something I was looking for. Adios for now, but I will come back later to read the rest of your post!

  3. “Japan in the passing lane (An insider’s account of life in a Japanese auto factory)” by Satoshi Kamata

    it’s an old book, but paints a grim picture

  4. I am not amazed of what is happening to these people that are worked to Death at the Toyota Plant Manufacturing plant in Japan.I saw a story of a guy working at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing plant in San Antonio Texas and he was injured on the job and was fired and was not given any help for his injury.I saw his story and at first I could not believe that a company like Toyota would do this to him.They showed pictures of his hand and it was eaten all the way to his bone and was left like this for almost 7 months.The Toyota Plant in San Antonio denied him the medical help and he lost his car,he had to refinance his home,and he also had to pawn and sell his things to make ends meat and even had to pawn his wedding ring. I cant imagine how many workers in the US are having this problem.

  5. Amazing how the Toyota Manufacturing Plants have total disregard for their employees.I saw a story in the internet where the Toyota Plant in Kentucky is firing employees after they are injured and hires on other employees through temp companies with a lot lower pay.It says in the story that some of the workers that are fired dont receive the medical attention needed and are sent home without pay.It also says that these employees are sometimes not able to get workers comp because the The Toyota Plant in Kentucky says they were probably injured on another job.These employees have to prove to the Toyota plant that they were injured on the job in order to receive the medical help they need.but by the time they are able to prove this the employees injuries are far more grater and a lot of these employees have lost there homes,cars and personal property or even their lives just because lack of pay.I hope that these employees can get help from the Government and Toyota is given a very Hefty Fine and is given to the employees that lost their jobs and were injured on the job.How can we allow companies like the Toyota Manufacturing plants in the US abuse our hard working people when this is what we have always fought against.

    • Wow I saw a story in the news that an employee at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Plant in San Antonio Texas was injured on the job and was later fired.He was denied medical help because the Toyota Plant in San Antonio said he had probably injured himself on another job.I guess this is what the Toyota Manufacturing Plants in the US do to all their employees that are injured to save money and that way they can eventually fire these employees and hire other people through temp companies and start having lower paying jobs.The news showed pictures of the guys hand where the infection had eaten away and eventually he had part of his wrist bone amputated because the plant refused to give him medical help and it said he has already had 7 surgeries.They also showed that he had lost his car had to refinance his home and sell his things and even pawn his wedding ring to be able to feed his family.Its amazing how the Toyota Plants in the US treats its employees and get away with it.I feel really bad about all these Toyota Employees and I hope that Toyota does get a big fine.And I hope all the employees that lost their jobs and their personal property get something for what they have been through.I am going to make copies of this story and I am going to hand them out to people who own Toyota Vehicles so they can see how their cars were made and at what expense so they can return them and other people stop buying them.Please who ever reads this pass it on so we can stop companies like Toyota do more harm to other people.

  6. […] will be ahead of others. [Just to set the record right – Toyota has also come under attack – Read here]. And some organisations remain at the extreme where they flout laws, turn a Nelson’s eye to the […]

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