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TLDR: Why Ex-Factory Workers Are Taking Dyson To Court & How Malaysia Is Involved

TLDR: Why Ex-Factory Workers Are Taking Dyson To Court & How Malaysia Is Involved

The key player, a Malaysian supply factory in Johor, isn’t even technically involved anymore.

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Last year, news broke that a factory supplier for Dyson in Malaysia is abusing its labourers. The case stirred up controversy internationally, and forced Dyson to investigate the factory’s working conditions.

Later on, Dyson terminated its contract with ATA IMS, the Malaysian supplier of Dyson products and parts, in December 2021.

Many thought that the issue was over, but a handful of ex-employees have stepped up to demand claims and compensation from Dyson over the poor working and living conditions at ATA IMS.

How it started

Dyson Limited is a British company that makes household appliances, most well-known for their hair dryers and vacuum cleaners. However, their manufacturing plants are located in Johor, Malaysia, and their HQ is in the process of being relocated to Singapore.

The factory responsible for manufacturing Dyson’s parts is called ATA IMS Berhad, which is the main player and backdrop for this controversy.

One of the main interviewees was Dhan Kumar Limbu, a former employee of ATA. Limbu claims that not only were labourers abused, whistleblowers were tortured by police after helping labour rights activists.

Dhan Kumar Limbu speaking to British news channel Channel 4 News.
(Credit: Channel 4 News)

According to him, workers were regularly put on ‘voluntary’ overtime more than legally allowed and forced to work on Sundays, among other workplace offenses.

However, the then-CEO of ATA Balachandran Govindasamy denied all allegations. Later on, Limbu fled the factory and returned home to Nepal.

Following public pressure, Dyson was forced to conduct independent investigations into the working conditions at the factory. The investigation reported a few major forced labour red flags at ATA including excessive working hours, the non-repayment of recruitment fees and the employment of workers without valid visas.

By December 2021, Dyson had cut ties with ATA IMS. They cited Limbu’s story as one of the reasons for doing so.

ATA IMS Berhad is located in Johor. They used to manufacture appliances and parts for Dyson.
(Credit: Reuters)

The issue has not ended yet

Despite cutting ties with its Malaysian supplier, Dyson is still facing reprecussions from the whole issue.

On 14 February 2022, Limbu and 9 others announced that they will be filing claims against the British company over the poor working conditions there.

British law firm Leigh Day, which represents the workers, claims that “Dyson was unjustly enriched as a result of the unlawful, exploitative and dangerous conditions at the factory”. As such, the factory should compensate the workers for it.

However, Dyson’s response was that the workers were under the employment of ATA, and not Dyson directly. A spokesperson said that if the case proceeded, the company will defend itself ‘robustly’.

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