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26 Mär 2024

By Laura Strickler, NBC News (USA)

USA: Migrant children as young as 14 working for Tennessee factory Tuff Torq, supplying to John Deere among other companies; incl. co comment

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“Kids as young as 14 were found working at a Tennessee factory that makes lawn mower parts for John Deere and others”

Immigrant children as young as 14 were found working illegally amid dangerous heavy equipment at a Tennessee firm that makes parts for lawn mowers sold by John Deere and other companies, according to Labor Department officials.

The company, Tuff Torq, was fined nearly $300,000 for hiring 10 children. As part of a consent agreement with the federal government, the company is also required to set aside $1.5 million to help the children who were illegally employed. Ryan Pott, general counsel for Tuff Torq’s majority owner, the Japanese firm Yanmar, acknowledged the violations to NBC News…

The Labor Department did not specify what work the children were doing. But Labor official Juan Coria said what his investigative team found in Tuff Torq’s “very busy” Morristown manufacturing plant was “astonishing.”

…investigators who witnessed children as young as 14 working late at night at the 24-hour manufacturing facility amid power-driven equipment…

…the general counsel for Tuff Torq’s majority owner, said the child workers were temporary and were not hired directly by Tuff Torq. …said Tuff Torq is “transitioning” away from doing business with the staffing company…

John Deere did not respond to a request for comment…