Toyota Vietnam punishes whistle-blowing engineer

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Báo Tuổi Trẻ English - 42 month(s) ago 15 readings

Toyota Vietnam has just issued a three-month work suspension against an engineer who exposed the company’s technical faults leading to the biggest vehicle recall in Vietnam’s history.

Mr. Le Van Tach

During the period, the company still pays 50% of salary to Le Van Tach.

On June 11, Tach unexpectedly received the suspension notice on the ground that he negatively affected work and had a bad influence on the prestige of colleagues in the company.

“I am very surprised because the general director of Toyota Vietnam tries to deny the truth to shrug off responsibility”, Tach complained.

Tach said that after exposing several technical flaws of Toyota cars assembled in Vietnam, he received threats and insults from colleagues.

On May 31, Tach sent a complaint letter to the company’s general director, notifying that 7 senior officials in the company have insulted and threatened him.

He wants the company to officially apologize to and compensate him.

But on June 10, the general director replied in writing that Tach’s accusation lacks evidence.

The company’s investigation found that many employees only joked. Some said they did not remember and talked only in individual capacity, not representing the company.

The company thus ruled that it will not compensate nor apologize to me, Tach said.

Tran Quoc Hung, head of Toyota Vietnam’s planning department told Nguoi Lao Dong Sunday that the suspension was not related to Tach’s whistle-blowing but to his groundless accusation causing disunity among employees.

“Engineer Tach has accused a number of individuals in the company and requested the company to compensate. After investigation, we found that such acts are not related to production activities and cause rifts among the company”.

“This [suspension] is necessary for Tach to think of his recent acts”, Hung said, adding that the suspension is in line with the labor law and company’s regulations.

April 1 press conference

Earlier, Toyota production director for Vietnam Tadashi Yoshida told a press conference on April 1 that he welcomed employees’ contributions towards improving products.

“Engineer Tach will not be fired or discriminated”, Tadashi Yoshida then affirmed.

Due to Tach’s expose, since April this year, Toyota Vietnam has recalled over 70,000 cars for problems related to bolts, pressure and seats.

In the latest recall - on June 7, the company announced that it will offer free checks for oil pressure on 6,108 Innova J cars produced between December 26, 2005 and November 24, 2010.

On April 15, Toyota Vietnam officially offered an apology and released a recall plan on 65,703 cars including a mere 167 Innova J vehicles.

The recall revolves around Innova and Fortuner vehicles that suffer three technical problems (oil pressure at the rear wheel being higher than standard, bolt No 8 that used under rear seat and camber bolts beyond standard).

The company earlier had announced a recall on 278 Camry cars.

Hero or villain?

Tach in late April received the “Responsibility Prize” from the Center for Research on Communication Development under Hanoi-based Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Association.

Tach was lauded for his efforts in ensuring benefits of over 650,000 consumers in Vietnam and ensuring traffic safety in Vietnam.

Tach told the ceremony that he had many times told Toyota leaders about the technical flaws but was paid no heed and was even threatened.

“I understand that Toyota Vietnam is a big enterprise, with a brand name and is trusted by many consumers. But the way it acted is surprising due to its shying away from responsibility and announcing false information”.

“They initially said only 8,830 vehicles [actual number is over 70,000] suffered from technical faults and announced the flaws would not affect quality”, Tach said at the awarding ceremony.

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