The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP), is seriously concerned about the findings of the report by Verité, ‘Forced Labour in the Production of Electronic Goods in Malaysia, A Comprehensive Study of Scope and Characteristics’.
Although ROAP 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.
By throwing a spotlight onto these abuses the report creates an opportunity for the Malaysian government and employers to scrutinise recruitment and employment practices, and review the policies that contribute to making workers vulnerable.
In particular, more can be done to make it easier for migrants to change employers, to protect their rights to join trade unions, and to ensure that discussions on migration policies include employers’ and workers’ organisations as well as all relevant parts of the government.
The ILO has provided comments to the Malaysian government, workers’ and employers’ organisations, on a draft Bill to tighten the regulation of private employment agencies. We strongly recommend that this Bill be extended to cover outsourcing agencies.
The ILO has supported the training of some Malaysian government labour inspectors, to recognise and deal with human trafficking for labour exploitation. The ILO stands ready to provide further help to tackle these unacceptable abuses.
We recognise the efforts made by those responsible employers in Malaysia who are working to ensure that bad practices are eliminated from their workplaces and supply chains. The ILO is working with the Malaysian Employers’ Federation (MEF) to develop guidelines on the recruitment and placement of migrant workers. The MEF has also made a number of recommendations to the government on reducing abuses, cutting costs and making the recruitment process fairer and more transparent.
The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has long been advocating for better policies, and through their migrant worker resource centres has helped individuals obtain access to justice.