BANGKOK (ILO News) - The ILO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RO-Asia and the Pacific), is seriously concerned about the findings of the report by Verité, “Forced labor in the production of electronic goods in Malaysia: A comprehensive study of scope and characteristics”. Although RO-Asia and the Pacific is not in a position to verify the specific numbers given in the report, it confirms that there are real problems with working conditions, employment and recruitment practices - particularly in relation to migrant workers - that need to be urgently addressed.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Nearly one-third of the 350,000 workers in Malaysia's electronics manufacturing sector -- a major supplier for leading global brands -- suffer labour conditions akin to "modern slavery", a report released Wednesday said.
The study by US-based fair-labour organisation Verite said at least 28 percent of workers toiling in Malaysian electronics factories -- particularly foreign migrants from impoverished nearby countries -- were stuck in a spiral of indentured servitude, unable to pay off excessive recruitment fees.
Verite said the study was commissioned by the US government, which bans the import of goods made with forced labour.
THE Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has urged the government to impose a heavier penalty on employers who neglect their workers’ safety, leading to workplace accidents and deaths.
Its deputy secretary-general, A. Balasubramaniam, said the MTUC viewed accidents at workplaces seriously.
He said there was a need for tough action to be taken against errant employers.
Activists demonstrated outside global big brand fashion outlets in the centre of Sydney's central shopping district on September 17 to demand that these companies pay the workers who make their products (in countries like Cambodia) living wages and respect their right to organise.
Other solidarity actions in Australia were held in Canberra and Melbourne.
These actions were part of a global solidarity campaign held on the same days as some 50,000 Cambodian garment workers from about 100 factories participated in gatherings, banner and sticker actions to demand a rise in their minimum wage from US$100 to US$177 per month.
Two union organisers were briefly detained in the capital Phnom Penh and there was a strong military presence on the streets outside the major industrial parks in the city. In January, a strike by garment worker was brutally repressed by the military. At least four workers were killed and many were arrested.