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31 Oct 2023

Taiwan: Vietnamese manufacturing workers pay high recruitment fees, while remediation falls short despite zero-fee recruitment policies, incl. cos. comments

In June 2022, The Diplomat reported migrant workers employed by manufacturers in Taiwan supplying to European multinationals paid extortionate recruitment fees and experienced other labour rights violations, including withheld passports and fines. At the time of writing, none of the workers had had their recruitment fees reimbursed.

In February 2023, Le Monde named the two suppliers where the abuse was occurring as Chin Poon Industrial and Shinkong Synthetic Fibers. At Chin Pool Industrial, workers allegedly paid high recruitment fees and experienced other labour rights violations. Chin Pool started reimbursing the workers based on their nationality. Vietnamese employees of Shinkong Synthetic Fibers spoke of high recruitment fees, fines, deductions, retention of ID papers, tight curfews and other forced labour risks. The buyers promised to address the issue with their supplier and the supplier agreed to reimburse all workers. The article also alleges migrants employed at Hwa Hsia Glass, which suppliers to L’Oreal, Veritiv and other companies, experienced labour rights abuse including the payment of high recruitment fees, passport confiscation, fines, and intimidation.

An article published in August 2023 outlines the relationship between the suppliers and buyers. Chin Pool Industrial supplies car parts to Bosch, Hella, General Motors, Opel, Magna, Visteon, and Continental. Shinkong Synthetic Fibers supplies plastics to Continental and Niagara Bottling, who makes bottles for companies including Walmart. Dutch State Mines and Dupont also sourced from Shinkong until the end of 2022. The August article also found the two suppliers reimbursed over $2.5 million to the migrant workers for recruitment fees paid Vietnam and Thailand. However, it notes migrants were paid only between 20% - 60% of their recruitment costs, thus going against the zero-recruitment fee policies of many of the companies buying from those suppliers.

An article in The Diplomat released in October 2023 alleges Vietnamese, Indonesian and Filipino workers experienced labour rights violations at the metal manufacturer Lioho Machine Works in Taiwan, which supplies Starlink products to SpaceX, General Motors, Ford, Toyota (via Kuozui Motors), Sangyang Motor, Mitsubishi, Honda, and Nissan. Violations include recruitment fee payment, intimidating fines, ID confiscation, and punitive management.

The article also alleges migrant workers experienced labour rights violations at the Taiwanese manufacturer U.D Electronic Corp, supplying to HughesNet (part of Echostar), Flex, Wistron, and Pegatron. Violations include recruitment fees, dismissal, and passport confiscation. The article also contains allegations of migrant worker abuse at Askey (part of ASUS), who Verizon and Nokia are customers of, including the payment of high recruitment fees.

Further, the article highlights developments in the Chin Pool Industrial case, including a continued lack of effective reimbursement for recruitment fees.

The June 2022, February 2023, August 2023 and October 2023 articles also refer to Volkswagen, Renault, Costco, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, MVP, VIHATICO, FORWARD, Bao Son Mapower (part of Bao Son Group), Patagonia, Apple, BlackRock, Vanguard, SSGA, Norway’s State Pension Fund, Ford Lioho Motor, TUV Rheinland, Mercedes-Benz, Denso, Tesla, and Song Hy Gia Lai International. The Diplomat contacted the four suppliers, all companies buying from them, and the investors prior to publication.