• Jun 18, 2008
The top is a tough place to be. Just ask Toyota, which is now facing charges of worker right abuses, including the use of sweat shops and human trafficking. As we've reported before, Japan even has a word for being overworked to death: karoshi. Toyota plants are not immune to this stress-related disease, as workers at its plants have indeed suffered death due to working too hard. These facts have caught the attention of The National Labor Committee, which has an entire report worked up that alleges Toyota over-works and under-pays its Japanese employees and has ties to various unsavory Dictators. It's also been well established that Toyota does not want its American workforce unionized.
The report is being directly targeted at Prius-driving celebrities who see Toyota as the shining green beacon in a world of pollution-spewing car companies. Whether or not this report has all its facts straight, if famous Toyota supporters in Hollywood react to these allegations, Toyota could indeed have a public relations disaster on its hands.

[Source: The National Labor Committee via World Car Fans]


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  • 38 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is a disingenuous smear campaign. I'm actually very pro-union. But this kind of scandalous action makes no friends.

      Toyota shouldnt do business with Myanmar, no matter how low on the chain that business is. But neither should Daewoo (GM), Siemens (who does business with BMW, MBZ and Porsche), Chevron (hq in the Bay Area), Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Tata, Maersk (who has US Military contracts), and many more.

      The human trafficking charges are even shadier. Using anecdotal evidence from a few individuals in companies, affiliates and suppliers whose payrolls are in the tens of thousands is not very damning. And not much different from what goes on all over the world. Hell, in this country, our car makers dont need cheap labor to be brought across the border (we leave that to other industries). Instead we just close up shop and move the whole factories across the border so that every job can be filled by someone making $12 a day.

      Im sure NLC's lawyers pored over every detail to make sure that there was nothing actually libelous here. But it's the gray areas, the use of poor sampling, the absence of perspective, and the complete one-sided nature of the allegations that makes this report so ridiculous.

      NLC obviously has an agenda to unionize Toyota, and this is the tactic they are using. It's shameful.
      • 6 Years Ago
      So a bunch of communists are complaining about people having to work. Why is this a news story?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Excelling in ones self is but a cultural thing (albeit unfavorable to the Japanese extreme of "karoshi") for Asians...

      There is a saying..The Japanese doesn't say "NO" or "can't be done" on anything...they just say "..it will be difficult."
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ugh. I hate Toyota. Their cars suck. Scions suck, Toyotas suck, and Lexuses suck.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Japanese work culture is very different from most of the world's and, believe it or not, people do overwork themselves voluntarily.

        Britain, at least certain areas of workforce, has similar culture - don't leave before your boss does and then don't be the first one to leave. Late stays are honoured, not necessarily in financial rewards - it's a cultural thing, there's no 9-to-5 attitude.

        One of the French car makers was actually sued after 3 or 4 people working at the assembly line committed suicides. The trial was actually successful even with French 35 hours a week schedule.

        Reports like this are usually based on cherry-picking and I wouldn't be surprised if the whole thing would come out as a work of overzealous volunteer - or a well-paid PR. We've seen more of that in the times of lesser crisis than the current one
      • 6 Years Ago
      Is it Christmas already?
      • 6 Years Ago
      This wont hurt Toyota in American eyes. I doubt Adolph Hitler had as great an influence over people like Toyota has over has over America.
      If this were GM. Well you know the story.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Given the source this comes from (organized labor), you can't regard it as unbiased information. Unions have been trying, unsuccessfully, to organize the transplant auto factories for the past 25 years. They've been defeated every time. In the meantime, the big 2.8 are getting beaten badly by the imports. So the unions are struggling.

      It is no surprise that the unions consider Toyota to be a sworn enemy. And the unions are not exactly known for being honest in their communications.

      Is there a race to the bottom? Sure there is. But the country to be afraid of is not Japan, which has well paid workers. The countries to be afraid of are China, India, and Vietnam.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Who the f is the National Labor Committee?

      Why is autoblog promoting their socialist agenda?

      Good grief. Yet another FAR-left, liberal, union-propaganda machine promoted by autoblog.

      Do any autoblog readers who enjoy reading about acronyms such as ZR1, Z06, GTR, give a hoot about some left wing socialists calling themselves the NLC?
      • 6 Years Ago
      So when unions strike everybody hates them, but in cases like this...?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Maybe Toyota's new plan is to tarnish the image of the hybrid so badly that by the time the Volt rolls out, it'll be pelted with red paint :)
      • 6 Years Ago
      Bet you toyota haters are lovin this arent ya? Toyota will find a way thru this. So stop while you can. Toyotas are among the best cars on the planet. Get used to it.

      By the way, all the cracks bout the prius are just people talkin out of their asses, that goes for the people who posted that nonsense on this thread as well. The prius is one of the most full efficient cars on the planet. Can your G8 get almost 50MPG? Didnt think so. GM sucks.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I work at a Toyota plant and have worked at a big three plant (as have most of the management at Toy). I don't know what goes on in Japan. I do, however, know all companies right now (including the 2 auto manufacturers I've worked for) put very high pressure on their suppliers for low prices, and I believe that this article is reflecting this fact in addition to whatever they think the assembly plant conditions are. Parts for all cars made in the US come from Mexico, Japan, China, and whoever else puts out a cheap contract.
      That being said, I think that Toyota takes better care of their workers than do the big 3. Pay is competitive in order to negate the need for a Union, facilities are better (look up the child care center at the Georgetown plant), the morale and pride are WAY stronger, and the use of Toyota's "Quality Circles" have allowed their operators a larger voice than conceivable in a unionized plant. If someone had a way of compiling the facts, I would bet that Toy has 20 lbs LESS WASTE per car and at least $3 in electricity due to their ongoing Kaizen activities.
      I’m glad to work in a Toyota plant; I think that their practices are under-rated and should be a benchmark for any company with a sense of community well-being.
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