Boeing’s largest plant in ‘panic mode’ amid safety crisis, say workers and union officials | Boeing

Boeing’s largest factory is in “panic mode”, according to workers and union officials, with managers accused of hounding staff to keep quiet over quality concerns.

The US plane maker has been grappling with a safety crisis sparked by a cabin panel blowout during a flight in January, and intense scrutiny of its production line as regulators launched a string of investigations.

Its site at Everett, Washington – hailed as the world’s biggest manufacturing building – is at the heart of Boeing’s operation, responsible for building planes like the 747 and 767, and fixing the 787 Dreamliner.

One mechanic at the complex, who has worked for Boeing for more than three decades, has claimed it is “full of” faulty 787 jets that need fixing.

Many of these jets are flown from Boeing’s site in South Carolina, where the company shifted final assembly of the 787 in 2021 in what was characterized as a cost-cutting measure.

“There is no way in God’s green earth I would want to be a pilot in South Carolina flying those from South Carolina to here,” the mechanic, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation, told the Guardian. “Because when they get in here, we’re stripping them apart.”

Managers at Everett “will hound mechanics” to keep quiet about quality-assurance concerns and potential repairs, the mechanic alleged, emphasizing speed and efficiency over safety. He added: “Boeing has to look in the mirror and say: ‘We’re wrong.’”

Boeing did not comment on claims that staff have been pressured not to raise concerns about quality. Work at Everett on 787 jets is taking place as part of an established verification program, it said.

The company met this week with US regulators to discuss how it plans to address quality-control issues. Executives have recently described how workers have been emboldened to speak up since January, with submissions to an internal portal for safety and quality concerns up 500%.

Earlier this year, a panel of experts, which was appointed by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after two fatal Boeing 737 Max crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people, described a “disconnect” between Boeing’s leadership and workforce on safety, and made 53 recommendations to help resolve its concerns.

After January’s blowout,

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Volkswagen faces criticism after comments made by Chinese business chief at Xinjiang plant

Volkswagen drew criticism from campaigners and a big investor on Tuesday after the head of its Chinese business said he saw no sign of forced labour during a visit to the car maker’s Xinjiang plant.

The works council, which is represented on Volkswagen’s supervisory board, in a statement following Ralf Brandstaetter’s comments said the company must make clear the plant’s value for the business and take a stance on human rights violations in China.

Activists, an international group of lawmakers and the head of sustainability and corporate governance at top-20 Volkswagen investor Deka Investment said verifying labour standards in the region was impossible.

“However much Mr Brandstaetter makes an effort, Volkswagen cannot be certain. That leads not only to reputational risk, but also legal issues, for example with supply chain laws,” Deka’s Ingo Speich said.

Volkswagen relies on profits from China to fund electric vehicle research and development in Germany and is fighting domestic competitors to keep market share in the country.

Brandstaetter said in January it was important to act from a “position of strength” within China and stay strong in the market while also ramping up sales elsewhere.

On Feb. 16-17, he toured the German group’s jointly-owned facility with China’s SAIC in Xinjiang, along with Volkswagen’s compliance and external relations chiefs in China.

Rights groups have documented human rights abuses in Xinjiang, including mass forced labour in detention camps that the U.N. said could constitute crimes against humanity. China has denied any abuses in Xinjiang.

Volkswagen says it has never found evidence of forced labour among its Xinjiang work force and its presence is positive for locals. It denied reports it had kept the plant open because Beijing had imposed a condition it had to keep producing across China.

“I can talk to people and draw my conclusions. I can try and verify the facts [from joint venture partner SAIC], and that’s what I did. I didn’t find any contradictions,” Brandstaetter said, adding it was his first visit but not his last.

Brandstaetter said he spoke at length to seven workers individually – including Han Chinese, Uyghurs and Kazakhs – some through a Volkswagen translator and some in English, and held shorter discussions with other workers on his tour, which he said occurred without government supervision.

But Luke de Pulford of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, a group of legislators from thirty democratic countries including Britain, Germany, and

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