UK NGO migrants report backs Fernandez’s claims

www.malaysiakini.com:A London-based NGO report ‘War on Want’ appears to back Tenaganita chief Irene Fernandez’s(below) Jakarta Post interview claim that migrant workers in Malaysia are ill-treated.

Based on interviews with 30 migrant women from Burma, the NGOreported that the textile and electronics industries in Malaysia “are dangerously negligent in enforcing legal standards of wages and working conditions for migrant workers”.

In its report Restricted Rights: Migrant Workers in Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia, the NGO found that workers were not paid fair wages and made to live in poor conditions.

It found that the women interviewed worked up to 78 hours a week, but earned wages as low RM150 a month, after employers deduct all sorts of levies including “attendance fee” if late for work.

Most of the wages go to recruitment agencies, which gulp down a RM300-400 cut per month of workers’ wages, encouraging many to become undocumented migrants.

It also found that factories which do work for international brands including Adidas, Reebok and Nike, pay per piece completed, resulting in take home pay to be less half of that earned by local workers.

These employees were also charged RM8-10 per month for utilities at their hostel, where they are made to share rooms as small as three square metres with as many as 17 other people, the NGO reported.

It also said that none of those interviewed were allowed to hold on to their passports or work permits, leaving them vulnerable to arrests during raids.

It added that the amendments to the Employment Act passed through last year further deprives employees of their rights as employers will only have legal relationships with recruitment agencies.

Berlin NGO reported the same

The report by ‘War on Want’, which is partly funded by UK Aid and Irish Aid matches a 2010 case study by Berlin-based World Economy, Ecology and Development on Malaysia’s electronics industry.

Among others, the German NGO found workers brought in by recruitment agencies were not placed in promised employment at electronics factories and were forced into prostitution.

Yesterday, Kuala Lumpur CID chief Ku Chin Wah said that Fernandez may be probed under the Sedition Act over her statements on migrant workers in the international media.

 

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