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15 Aug 2023

By Ivan Penn and Ana Swanson, The New York Times (USA)

Malaysia: First Solar finds subcontractors in Malaysia subjected migrant workers to conditions of forced labour, incl. co comments

See all tags Allegations

“Solar Company Says Audit Finds Forced Labor in Malaysian Factory”

First Solar, a leading U.S. solar panel manufacturer, said on Tuesday that an audit had found that migrant workers in its operations in Malaysia were victims of forced labor.

The independent audit, which was included in a corporate sustainability report, found that four subcontractors in Malaysia had charged the workers recruitment fees in their home countries and withheld their pay and passports…

Global supply chains for solar panels have for years relied on China, in particular for polysilicon, a crucial component in most solar panels made around the world. But a recent ban on products from Xinjiang, a region where the U.S. government and United Nations accuse the Chinese government of committing human rights violations, including forced labor, has led to a shift away from China…

First Solar produces a solar panel that does not use polysilicon and, as a result, appeared immune from the supply chain concerns related to Xinjiang…

“We highlight this information openly, not only because of our commitment to transparency and Responsible Solar, but also to raise awareness of modern slavery risks that hide in plain sight,” Mark R. Widmar, chief executive of First Solar, said in a statement…

The company said it is requiring the four subcontractors to change how they treat workers and agree to periodic reviews…

…moving supply chains out of China does not always resolve companies’ problems….

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