28th December 2023: Thousands of Bangladeshi workers duped over job chances in Johor should be helped not arrested

28th December 2023: Thousands of Bangladeshi workers duped over job chances in Johor should be helped not arrested

28th December 2023: Thousands of Bangladeshi workers duped over job chances in Johor should be helped not arrested

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has today slammed the police and Immigration Department for detaining 171 Bangladeshi workers in Pengerang, Johor for allegedly overstaying.

Original Source: Malaymail by Anis Zalani – 27th December 2023

In a statement today, secretary-general Kamarul Baharin Mansor said the Bangladeshi workers who have been deceived out of employment by agents should instead be assisted rather than punished.

“MTUC is shocked by the actions of the police and Immigration in detaining foreign workers who have fallen victim to job scams.

“Victims of fraud should be assisted by providing them with employment opportunities. This is the cause of Bangladeshi workers entering legally but eventually being considered [undocumented migrants] after fleeing from employers due to deception,” he said in a statement here.

In response, MTUC said it is calling on the government to conduct a thorough investigation and identify all foreign workers who arrive in Malaysia with promises of job opportunities but end up without employment.

Mansor said MTUC has received reports of such cases happening from both external sources and directly from foreign workers.

He also noted that if this issue is not properly addressed, there is a looming risk of Malaysia falling to Tier 3 in the human trafficking report next year.

MTUC also reminded the government of the potential repercussions of allowing the entry of foreign workers without thorough scrutiny, cautioning that such lax measures could result in violations of labour laws.

This, Mansor said, will ultimately cause Malaysia to be labelled as a country endorsing forced labour practices.

“Companies take advantage of the foreign labour supply industry, which is seen as a goldmine. This industry is surrounded by various negative perceptions, including corruption, bribery, abuse of power, gangsterism, and cartels,” he said.

Citing the problem of foreign workers has resulted in a ban on glove and palm oil products entering the United States, Mansor emphasised the urgent need to prioritise protection and welfare measures for foreign workers to shield the country from reputational and economic repercussions.

Additionally, he said MUTC urges the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to launch a comprehensive investigation into the entire network involved in the recruitment of foreign workers.

Mansor said the investigation should begin with the companies managing foreign workers, proceed to government officials involved in approving their entry and to the companies accepting foreign workers.

“Until now, the issue of foreign workers has not been fully resolved. Asset seizures and imprisonment should be carried out to provide a lesson and a reminder that forced labour practices can damage Malaysia’s reputation,” he said.

On Monday, Johor police said the group of 171 Bangladeshi men was heading towards the Bayu Damai police station to lodge a report against their agents as they claimed they had yet to be employed after three to six months.

After their arrests, police said they were handed over to the Immigration Department for overstaying in the country under immigration law.

27th December 2023: Jobless migrants issue: MTUC warns govt of trade sanction impact

Original Source: Malaysiakini by Alyaa Alhadjri – 27th December 2023

The Malaysian Trade Union Congress has warned that Malaysia risks facing the impact of international trade sanctions next year should the government fail to address issues related to migrant Bangladeshi workers left without jobs months after their arrival here.

Its secretary-general Kamarul Baharin Mansor said that such cases, including the latest incident involving 171 migrant workers from Bangladesh under Immigration detention in Johor since Dec 20, are a form of labour trafficking. 

“MTUC urges the government to investigate and find all the migrant workers who were promised jobs and arrived in Malaysia but found themselves without employment,” he said in a statement today.

In an immediate response on Monday, Human Resources Minister Steven Sim promised further investigationswould be conducted this week on the agency responsible.

“There is a possibility of Malaysia being downgraded to Tier 3 in the (US State Department Trafficking in Persons) report next year if this issue is not managed well,” said Kamarul Baharin. 

The annual report released in June saw Malaysia moving up from Tier 3 to be placed in the Tier 2 watchlist. The criticisms include that the government did not meet the minimum standards for the prosecution of labour traffickers in the palm oil and disposable glove manufacturing industry.

Within the United States, allegations of forced labour made against a company could prompt an investigation by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on goods manufactured for export into the country.

This could then lead to the issuance of a unilateral sanction or import ban against products manufactured by the company until the allegations have been resolved.

Commenting further, Kamarul Baharin said there continue to be agents and companies profiting from the business of migrant worker recruitment.

“MTUC urges MACC to investigate the root cause (of jobless migrant workers) starting from the labour agencies, government officials in charge of approvals and companies hiring migrant workers.

“Confiscation of assets and imprisonment must be enforced to serve as a warning that forced labour can damage Malaysia’s reputation,” he stressed.

‘Blacklist errant agents, companies’

When contacted, Kamarul Baharin told Malaysiakini the government could also consider blacklisting agents and companies found to be involved in forced labour activities.

“Make sure the company directors are prevented from being involved in any form of businesses,” he said, referring to a practice where individuals can cover up their past labour transgressions under the name of a new company. 

Meanwhile, former Klang MP Charles Santiago noted that Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim should initiate drastic actions, including potentially isolating the migrant workers recruitment system – now under the purview of the Home Ministry.

“Currently, the entire system is broken, and so any recommendation to move it into either one ministry would not work.

“The prime minister should initiate transferring the process to be under the Prime Minister’s Department, maybe for a year or more, while other reforms are put in place,” he told Malaysiakini today. 

Aside from the Home Ministry, which is in charge of approving hiring quotas, the Human Resources Ministry through the Labour Department is in charge of workers’ welfare here. 

Charles noted recommendations made by the Independent Committee on the Management of Foreign Workers – set up under the first Pakatan Harapan administration in 2018 but its findings were only made public in October this year – are now “potentially redundant” with newer tactics adopted by perpetrators of forced labour.

Among others, he cited Malaysiakini’s reports which uncovered various means that led to Bangladeshi workers being trapped in a cycle of debt bondage here.

The 11-member committee led by former Court of Appeals judge Mohd Hishamuddin Yunus, among others, recommended that the Human Resources Ministry be the single authority to formulate and implement policies that govern the management of foreign workers in the country.

Additional Reading:

See more: 28th Dec 2023: New Strait Times – ‘Company involved in 171 Bangladeshi migrant worker scandal not licensed to recruit’

See more: 28th Dec 2023: FMT – Malaysia has entered ‘slave labour’ territory, says ex-MP – Charles Santiago calls for specific set-ups to manage migrant workers

See more: 27th Dec 2023: New Strait Times – MTUC demand govt, MACC probe into corrupt recruitment practices of foreign workers

See more: 27th Dec 2023: New Strait Times – Strict action against employers, agencies neglecting 171 Bangladeshi workers: MEF

See more: 27th Dec 2023: FMT – Bangladeshis duped over jobs are victims of human trafficking, says rights group

See more: 26th Dec: The Star – Over 2,000 duped migrants in Pengerang, says Azalina

See more: 26th Dec 2023: FMT – Azalina wants urgent probe into 171 Bangladeshis duped over jobs

See more 26th Dec 2023: FMT – High recruitment fees make greedy agents bring in workers, says group

See more: 25th Dec 2023: FMT – Probe recruitment agents, MACC told after arrest of Bangladeshis

See more: 25th Dec 2023: FMT – Human resources ministry comes to the rescue of Bangladeshi workers

See more: 25th Dec 2023: FMT – Cops nab 171 foreigners protesting lack of jobs in Johor

See more: 25th Dec 2023: The Star – Foreigners march to police station to complain about agent, get hauled up by Immigration Dept instead

See also related: 7th December 2023: Telegraph UK – Shimano bike parts ‘made by modern slaves’ in Malaysia sold to commuters

See more: 5th Nov 2023: Malaysian HR Minister pledges nationwide operations concerning the plight of Bangladeshi migrant workers in Malaysia following Andy Hall’s complaint letter to the OHCHR

See more: 30th Oct 2023: FMT: Andy Hall refers stranded Bangladeshi workers’ plight in Malaysia to UN Human Rights Council

See more: 26th Oct 2023: Malaysian PM Office’s Minister Azalina says govt to complete national action plan for business and human rights by 2024 amid global spotlight on systemic migrant forced labour in the country

See more: 20th Oct 2023 Malaysiakini: Long-awaited foreign worker management report declassified in Malaysia

See more: 19th Oct 2023: Malaysia facing huge excess of 1/4 million migrant laborers

See more: 2nd Oct 2023: MALAYSIAKINI – Exploitation of migrant workers continues unabated in Malaysia

See more: 21st Sep 2023: Malaysian government has 15 source countries for foreign workers – Comments by Andy Hall

See more: FMT 20th Sep 2023: Rate of abused Bangladeshi workers’ entry into Malaysia worrying, says migrant rights activist Andy Hall

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