Consumers Association of Penang

Giving voice to the little people...since 1970

Report of Forced Labour in Malaysian Electronics Industry: CAP Urges Government to Investigate and End the Abuse

CAP urges the Ministry of Human Resources and relevant authorities to verify a recent revelation of forced labour in the electronics industry in Malaysia. A study by Verité, a non-profit organization found that nearly one in three workers from seven countries surveyed was working in conditions of forced labour.

The electrical and electronics industry is the leading sector in Malaysia's manufacturing sector, contributing 27.2% employment in 2013. Total employees in the manufacturing sector in 2013 were 2,214,800 or 16.8% of total 13.21million employed persons in Malaysia.

 

Verité had interviewed 501 male and female, foreign and Malaysian nationalities working across all major producing regions and electronics products. It was found that 28% of all workers in the study sample were found to be in situations of forced labour. The rate of forced labour among only foreign workers was higher, at 32%.

Over the years, CAP had assisted some workers when we came across cases of human right abuses of foreign workers involving the manufacturing sector, plantation sector and in restaurants. The Verité report shows that the conditions faced by hundreds of thousands of foreign electronics workers in Malaysia have the potential to result in forced labour, and urgent action has to be taken to end this exploitation.

Many electronics workers in Malaysia are employed through third-party employment agents. The Verité report states that workers in the study who were employed by third-party employment agents were found to be more vulnerable to forced labour conditions than directly hired workers. According to the study, the widespread reliance on third-party agents for the recruitment, management and employment of foreign workers limits their protections and blurs accountability for labour conditions.

Other top factors identified by the research as contributors to forced labour include: unlawful passport retention, high and hidden recruitment fees resulting in widespread indebtedness that can trap workers in their jobs, deceptive recruitment practices, highly constrained freedom of movement, poor living conditions, fines and other penalties that prevent workers from being able to resign, and inadequate legal protections.

CAP urges the government and companies to use these findings to take concrete action to end the abuses suffered by foreign workers. We support the call that third-party employment agents should be regulated by the government and held accountable for their bad practices.

Press release, 3 Oct 2014



Notes:

Verité is an international not-for-profit training, consulting and research NGO that has been a leader in supply chain social responsibility and sustainability since 1995.

The executive summary of the report is attached.

The full report can be downloaded from: http://www.verite.org/sites/default/files/images/VeriteForcedLaborMalaysianElectronics2014.pdf