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Tenaganita: Abuse Of Migrant Workers Widespread Problem In Malaysia

Tenaganita: Abuse Of Migrant Workers Widespread Problem In Malaysia

Tasneem Nazari

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In Malaysia, cases of migrant workers being abused is a widespread problem because our Employment Act is not enforced in incidents that involve them.

Speaking to The Sun Daily, Tenaganita executive director Glorene Das was commenting on a report by Tesco which stated that migrant workers in its stores and distribution centres in Malaysia in Thailand were facing abuse.

The British multinational grocery chain hired a human rights consultancy last year to conduct the independent assessment, and listed allegations based on interviews with 168 migrant workers in Malaysia and 187 in Thailand.

The abuse faced by these migrant workers included passport retention, unexplained and illegal wage reductions, heavy indebtedness to labour brokers and excessive overtime work.

In Malaysian Tesco stores, 68 Indonesian and 171 Nepali workers had their passports withheld, and high levels of indebtedness to service or labour providers were found.

Glorene pointed out that despite having decent employment laws, Malaysia has been on the global slavery index in a number of industries, including the plantation and electronics sector.

Image for illustration purposes only. (Credit: Malaysiakini)

When we approach employers to discuss the problem faced by their workers, we are told that all monetary claims made by the employees are paid to the agents.

Glorene Das via The Sun Daily

SShe said the main issue was that the work is outsourced and the claims are paid to an agent. As far as employers are concerned, they have paid. And they leave it to the agent to pay the worker. Whether or not the workers are paid, the employers feel that it’s not their problem. 

However, Tesco stated that they will be taking extensive steps to remediate the situation involving their foreign employees.

They have developed a plan to examine the issue and will be conducting detailed investigations of specific allegations, setting up support lines and grievance mechanisms for agency workers in their own languages, training managers on diversity and inclusion and shifting to recruit migrant workers directly.

All passports were returned to workers when passports were required for work permit renewal or other government purposes.

Tesco via The Sun Daily

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