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Ford probing allegations of China worker abuse

NEW YORK, March 4, 2011 – The US Ford Motor Company on Friday was looking into a graphic report by a human rights group alleging abuse and of workers at a Chinese factory.

The accusations came in a report by the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights entitled "Dirty Parts: Where Lost Fingers Come Cheap" with a picture on the cover of a mangled hand missing three fingers.

The report accuses the Yuwei Plastics and Hardware Product Company in Dongguan of paying its workers 80 cents per hour and of making them work 14-hour shifts, seven days a week, making auto parts.

It cited employees as saying that 80 percent of the parts are sold to Ford.

It said the disfigured hand belonged to a 21-year-old worker who got it trapped in a heavy stamping machine after his employer told him to turn an infrared safety device off in order to be able to work faster.

The worker "received a total compensation payment of just $7,430 for the loss of three fingers, leaving his hand basically inoperative," it said.

"In the U.S., Workers Compensation for a similar injury would result in a $144,292 payment."

The report said there had been four serious injuries — involving maimed hands and fingers — over the last several years and minor injuries every one to two months.

"We take these allegations seriously and are investigating the situation," Ford said in a statement.

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"Ford has a strong commitment to human rights and workplace safety, and we expect our suppliers to comply with local laws and our Code of Basic Working Conditions."

A spokesperson said the company was trying to determine if the factory was one its 1,500 direct suppliers or one of thousands of indirect suppliers around the world.

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