Green Asia

Volkswagen: audit of Xinjiang site found no signs of forced labour

BERLIN : Volkswagen’s commissioned audit of its jointly owned site in Xinijang, China, found no signs of forced labour, the company said on Tuesday, though the auditor added the challenges of data collection in China were widely known.

The audit was run by German human rights due diligence firm Loening Human Rights & Responsible Business GmbH and included on-site interviews and inspection of employee contracts and salary payments for the site’s 197 employees, Loening’s managing director Markus Loening said.

“The situation in China and Xinjiang and the challenges in collecting data for audits are well known,” Loening said in a statement, adding the mandate was limited to the employees of the Urumqi plant, which is a joint venture with SAIC Motors.

Volkswagen investors demanded earlier this year that the carmaker request cooperation from SAIC to conduct an independent audit of labour conditions at the site in Xinjiang, a region where rights groups have documented abuses including mass forced labour in detention camps.

Loening carried out the audit together with two Chinese lawyers from a firm in Shenzhen, Volkswagen said, without naming the firm or lawyers.

“The employees are paid above average and have little to do,” Loening said, highlighting that the plant, which previously assembled the Santana model, now only handled “technical commissioning and deliveries to the region”.

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