World’s Biggest Company Linked To Child Labor Violations

( On Monday, the United States Department of Labor charged a South Korean-owned company with breaking child labor rules at its facility in Alexander City, Alabama. The factory in question supplies Hyundai Motor Company with parts.

SL Alabama LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of SL Corp. in South Korea, is the company that manages the factory. Components for Hyundai and Kia automobiles, including headlights and taillights, are manufactured at the plant in Alabama.

The Department of Labor asserts that SL Alabama engaged in “oppressive child labor” practices by hiring “minors under the age of 16” at the company. The company told Reuters that minors did work at the plant, but they claimed that an unnamed labor recruitment firm was responsible for their employment.

Just a few weeks ago, Reuters published an article about child labor at another Alabama company that is part of Hyundai’s supply chain.

In that case, a metal stamping company controlled by a Hyundai subsidiary called SMART Alabama LLC was accused of employing workers as young as 12, including three children who were migrants from the same family in Guatemala. According to the law in Alabama, staff of these types of facilities is required to be at least 18 years old.

The plant has a long history of health and safety difficulties, but Reuters could not determine the overall number of employees younger than 18 years old. Whistleblowers claim that dozens of minors were working there, and some did not attend school.

In an email sent to Reuters, Hyundai reiterated its stance that it “does not allow illegal employment practices” in its supply chain and expressly prohibits the use of child labor among its subsidiaries and subscribers. According to critics quoted in a Reuters article from July about the SMART Alabama Plant, Hyundai has big expansion plans in the United States but is having a hard time finding enough workers, so it has turned to recruitment firms that hire migrant workers without thoroughly vetting the employees. Reuters’ article was about the SMART Alabama Plant.

In July, a spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Labor stated to the Washington Post that per the state’s child labor laws, underage workers who a staffing agency hired would be considered employees of the plant where they worked and not the job service that hired them in the first place.