Migrant Workers Employed at McDonald’s Malaysia Claim to be Victims of Labour Exploitation

December 2, 20168:22 am2225 views

Migrant workers employed at McDonald’s Malaysia through labour supply firms claim to have been allegedly deceived about wages, cheated on payments and passports confiscated unlawfully. The workers claim to have earned as little as 60p an hour and were cheated out on months of salary, revealed an interesting Guardian investigation on the matter.

The workers allege that they were subjected to months and in some cases, years of exploitation by Human Connection HR, a labour supply company contracted by McDonald’s Malaysia to supply workers for its restaurants in Kuala Lumpur.

These migrant workers, of whom many hail from Nepal said, their passports were confiscated, in contravention of the Malaysian law. They further claim to be deceived of wages and charged additional fee when they arrived in the country, which resulted in 25% deduction in their basic monthly salary. During the course of working with the fast-food chain, this has equated to months of losses on wages.

Unlike operating in major markets of the US and the UK, McDonald’s operates in Malaysia on a franchise model wherein outlets are company owned. Migrants also claim to not receive their salaries on time that leaves them unable to buy food or send money home to their families. In protest of late payment of wages, workers had called in strike earlier this year.

McDonald’s Malaysia said in an email that it had ended its contract with Human Connection. “At McDonald’s Malaysia, the welfare of staff is a top priority. Earlier this year, we became aware of certain circumstances relating to services provided by Human Connection HR which were not in compliance with our standards. As a result, we have terminated our contract with them.”

This investigation just comes after days Guardian exposed allegations of migrant workers making products for Samsung and Panasonic in industrial zones across the country, which sheds light on malpractices of labour supply agencies used by reputed international brands in Malaysia.

The Guardian spoke to 15 Nepalese workers formerly employed at four McDonald’s restaurants in the capital, Kuala Lumpur. The men worked at McDonald’s at different times over the course of three years. More than half said they have been forced to run away from their jobs without passports or back pay, entering the illegal work market in an attempt to save money.  This would leave them vulnerable to arrest and detention by the Malaysian authorities.

See: Employers in Malaysia Grant Lower Salary Increase and Bonuses to Executives in 2016

Many workers criticised McDonald’s failure to respond to complaints of its workers, with regards to Human Connection HR but received no assistance.

The manager of one McDonald’s branch that previously employed some of the workers claims that the company’s headquarters in Malaysia were informed about the problems the men faced: “The labour supply company withheld two to three months’ wages. The workers only had a photocopy of their documents, but they should have had the original with them. We are humans. We tried to help them with food, but you can’t do it all the time.”

In its defense, McDonald’s issued a statement saying, “While local employees make up for the vast majority – more than 90% of our workforce, we sometimes work with established recruitment agencies which employ foreign workers, and sub-contract a number of them to McDonald’s in Malaysia. These staff members are employees of the recruitment agency, not McDonald’s.”

“McDonald’s Malaysia has made repeated attempts with Human Connection HR to investigate and verify issues of non-compliance shared by the workers, raising our serious concerns through both verbal and written correspondence. Because the workers are not employees of McDonald’s, our efforts to address the issues were unsuccessful, as were proposals for McDonald’s to assume responsibility for paying workers directly. In the interim, to assist, we authorised restaurants to provide food and provisions to workers affected while we worked to address the issue.”

“Following the termination of our contract, the workers remain employees of Human Connection HR and as such we understand that they will either return to their home country or be redeployed to other businesses.”

Also read: Global Recruitment Partnership to Help Malaysian Businesses Hire Right in the Digital Age

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