Get moving on migrant workers’ woes, Tenaganita urges Labour Department

The Labour Department must pay more attention to problems faced by migrant workers, Tenaganita said.

This includes poor treatment by employers, the human rights group added.

Its director and consultant for human trafficking, Aegile Fernandez, said abuse cases among migrant workers are also on the rise. Poor accommodation is also a major concern.

“It has been going on for over two decades. Complaints were made against large corporations for violations but action was slow, said Fernandez.

“Bigger companies are able to ‘hide’ these wrongdoings as workers are placed in a more controlled environment and the management won’t speak to you,” she said, referring to a complaint lodged with Tenaganita 15 years ago against a glove manufacturing company.

“The workers were controlled and monitored. If there was a complaint against a worker, he or she would be isolated in little lock-ups and later send the worker home (country of origin).”

She tried approaching the management of the factory to discuss the matter but the company ignored Tenaganita.

“We tried filing a case with the Labour Department but they did not accept the case,” Fernandez said.

She added there were also workers who were physically abused by their supervisors when they complained about issues concerning their wages.

“It appeared then that these firms were protected and could do whatever they wanted,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez was responding to the latest incident involving six Top Glove Corp Bhd-related companies.

Nineteen investigation papers were opened against the six companies following enforcement operations at the respective premises in five states.

This came about after a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases under the Teratai cluster.

According to the Human Resources Ministry, investigations revealed “dense, uncomfortable accommodation and lack of proper ventilation and buildings” for for Top Glove workers.

Subsequently, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan said accommodation for 91.1 per cent or 1.4 million foreign workers in Malaysia does not meet provisions under the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990.

These numbers, however, do not surprise Fernandez who said many errant employers get off the hook because of poor enforcement.

“Abuses and violations are worse than before with employers venting their frustrations on workers … just look at the number who are being abused.

“Enforcement is crucial and the ministry should stop saying it does not have enough officers. We have been hearing this for such a long time.

“Where is all the money paid by migrant workers to the government, including levy payment, going to? Shouldn’t this be used to hire more officers?

“Companies need to be hauled up and educated. It is their duty to provide proper housing for their workers, failing which the government should shut them down. This happens in other countries, but we are just lackadaisical,” she added.

Here’s a round-up of The News Normal today.


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