Global labour body urges Putrajaya to end forced labour in electronics industry

September 22, 201411:17 am270 views
Global labour body urges Putrajaya to end forced labour in electronics industry
Global labour body urges Putrajaya to end forced labour in electronics industry

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has urged Putrajaya to speed up and broaden a draft bill regulating private employment agencies to curb forced labour and worker abuse in the electronics industry.

In a statement, the ILO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) said it was concerned about the recent findings on Malaysia’s electronics industry published by international labour rights group, Verite.

Verite had found that nearly one in three of 350,000 workers in Malaysia’s electronic industry suffered from conditions of modern-day slavery such as debt bondage.

ILO said it was ready to help Putrajaya address problems in the electronics industry, and that it had supported Malaysian government labour inspectors in addressing human trafficking for labour exploitation.
“ILO has already provided feedback to Putrajaya, workers’ and employers’ organisations, on a draft bill to tighten the regulation of private employment agencies.

“ILO also strongly recommends that the draft bill be extended to cover outsourcing agencies,” ILO said in a statement.

The findings by Verite are an opportunity for Putrajaya and employers to scrutinise recruitment and employment practices, ILO said.

“Policies which contribute to making workers vulnerable should be studied and reviewed,” ILO said.

ILO pointed out that Putrajaya should do more to make it easier for migrant workers to change employers.

“Their rights to join trade unions should be better protected,” the organisation said.

Commenting on the Verite report, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) had also told The Malaysian Insider that the electronics industry was firmly resistant to the formation of trade unions.

MTUC secretary-general N. Gopal Krishnan had said that workers in the electronics industry who had expressed an interest in starting a trade union were swiftly sacked.

“There are real problems with working conditions, employment and recruitment practices – particularly in relation to migrant workers – that need to be urgently addressed,” ILO said.

However, the organisation said it recognised the efforts made by responsible employers in Malaysia who are working to ensure that bad practices are eliminated from their workplaces and supply chains.

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 MTUC has long been advocating for better policies, and through its migrant worker resource centres, it has helped individuals obtain access to justice.


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