Volkswagen: Audit finds no sign of 'forced labor' in Xinjiang plant

Release time:2023-12-07 Publisher:South Asia Development

An audit on Volkswagen's jointly owned plant in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region found no indications of any use of forced labor, the automaker said on Tuesday.

The audit, which was carried out by German human rights due diligence firm Loening Human Rights & Responsible Business GmbH, included on-site interviews and inspection of employee contracts and salary payments for the site's 197 employees.

Volkswagen said the audit was conducted in line with the internationally renowned SA8000 standard, a management systems standard based on international human rights principles which assesses eight areas including child labor, forced labor and health and safety.

Loening found that the employees are qualified, having worked at the company for up to 10 years, have a low work intensity and are being paid above the average in the region.

Volkswagen's China chief Ralf Brandstaetter has also said there is no evidence of human rights violations or forced labor when he toured the site in February.

Earlier this year, Volkswagen investors demanded that the carmaker conduct an independent audit of labor conditions at the site in Xinjiang, Reuters reported.

The Chinese government has said multiple times that allegations of "forced labor" in Xinjiang are complete lies fabricated by anti-China forces to discredit China.

"We firmly reject attacks and smears against China by anyone or any force using human rights as a pretext and groundless accusations about the human rights conditions in Xinjiang," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in November during a press briefing.