KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 — The Ministry of Human Resources (MOHR) today said it has carried out physical audits and legal action against problematic companies after the US accused Malaysia of using child and forced labour to produce rubber goods.
The MOHR said it has always acted proactively against labour abuses and continues to keep a close scrutiny on the industry by conducting spot checks on companies to prevent further incidents that could stain Malaysia’s reputation.
“MOHR does not condone and tolerate any act of forced labour as well as compromise towards non-compliance of any practice amounting to forced labour,” it said in a statement.
As example, it said its Labour Department officials carried out 10,513 statutory inspections on manufacturers in the country last year alone.
It said it filed seven investigation papers against companies found in violation of the Employment Act 1955 (Act 265) and had issued compound fines against the employers.
It also said the Malaysian government has made amendments to the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing, Accommodation and Amenities Act 1990 to improve the living conditions of migrant workers and prevent the spread of communicable diseases.
MOHR said its minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan has also chaired dialogues with employers of rubber manufacturing companies here on compliance towards domestic labour laws and meeting international standards.
It added that the Labour Department has called for several meetings to discuss the mechanism, implementation and operation of the Independent Social Audit Compliance.
“Through these initiatives by MOHR and its agencies, industry players and major rubber manufacturing companies have expressed their commitment and cooperation to implement corrective actions on the non-compliance in workers’ rights and welfare; laws and legislations; and workers’ safety and facilities,” the ministry said.
On October 15, the US Department of Labour (DOL) put Malaysia on a blacklist of countries producing rubber gloves using forced labour.
According to the US DOL, an estimated 42,500 migrant workers were employed in the rubber glove industry with many frequently forced to pay high recruitment fees to secure employment that often kept them in debt bondage.
The US agency also claimed migrant workers in Malaysia were forced to work longer hours than allowed under local law, and subject to work in factories at dangerously high temperatures.
The world superpower had previously flagged Malaysia for similarly using forced labour in the production of electronics and garments.
It also accused Malaysia of using children and forced labour for its palm oil products.