The Edge 30th August 2023: HR minister vows probe into Malyasian unethical labour practices by First Solar’s Malaysian contractors.
Malaysian Unethical Labour Practices – Comments by Andy Hall
There are many Malaysian unethical labour practices.
Across Malaysia’s export orientated industries at this time, we see:
- bogus employers with fake migrant worker quotas are prevalent;
- unlicensed Malaysian companies acting with impunity as irregular recruitment agencies and charging indebted and vulnerable migrant workers exorbitant recruitment fees and costs;
- migrant workers brought into the country in debt and then too often left destitute and unemployed,
- despite frequent requests for support from government agencies;
- cleaning, security and maintenance contractor companies breaking almost every law on the books.
The situation has clearly worsened for at risk migrant workers significantly in the past year or so, and especially since Anwar’s administration came into power and recklessly removed all the previous checks and balances for employers in hiring migrant worker in a rush to kickstart the economy post Covid-19. The forced labour risks associated with doing business in Malaysia, with some notable exceptions, are at this time now higher than ever before.
See related articles at: Malaysian government to probe unethical labour practices.
HR minister vows probe into unethical labour practices by First Solar’s Malaysian contractors
PUTRAJAYA (Aug 30): The Department of Labour Peninsular Malaysia (JTKSM) has yet to receive any information from First Solar (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd regarding the list of contractors allegedly involved in unethical labour practices, said Human Resources Minister V Sivakumar.
He said First Solar (Malaysia), a solar panel manufacturing and installation factory operating at the Kulim Hi-Tech Park in Kedah, needs permission from its head office, First Solar, Inc in Arizona, US, to provide information on the company’s four engaged contractors.
“The Human Resources Ministry (MOHR) will conduct further investigations into all contractors involved after receiving a list of contractors’ names from the corporate headquarters.
“The ministry is committed to fighting the problem of forced labour in all employment sectors in this country and will not compromise with any party carrying out such activities,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
On Aug 16, the media reported top US solar panel maker First Solar as saying an audit of its manufacturing operations had uncovered unethical labour practices at its Malaysia factory, sending the company’s shares down about 5%.
In a corporate sustainability report, First Solar said four onsite service providers in Malaysia had subjected migrant workers to unethical recruitment practices, including “the payment of recruitment fees in their home countries, passport retention, and the unlawful retention of wages.”
According to Sivakumar, the workforce at First Solar (Malaysia), which is owned by First Solar, Inc, consists entirely of local workers.
However, he said the four contractors hired by First Solar (Malaysia) in the areas of security screening, cleaning, building maintenance and warehousing did not meet the standards of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), alleging unethical cost practices in recruitment, whether in Malaysia or the country of origin, keeping of passports by the employer and withholding wages.
According to him, First Solar has taken steps to ensure that all contractors return the passports and withheld wages of foreign workers. The company has also implemented a reimbursement plan to assist contractors in their efforts to repay hiring costs in their home countries.
First Solar is also taking steps to ensure that its service contract and contractor employment policy are updated so that the listed violations are not repeated in the future, he said.