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Report: VN staff in Malaysia used as forced labour

Update: September, 26/2014 - 09:36
Figures from Viet Nam labour ministry showed that there are 80,000 Vietnamese labourers working in Malaysia. Last year, another 7,000 labourers were sent.— Photo annninhthudo

HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam authorities will re-examine the living and working conditions of Vietnamese labourers in Malaysia, especially those in the electronic sector, to see if there have been any abuses.

International labour-rights group Verite said last week that 32 per cent of nearly 200,000 foreign workers in the industry were being used as forced labour.

It added that 40 per cent of the abused workers were from Viet Nam. In a report titled Forced Labour in the Production of Electronic Goods in Malaysia, A Comprehensive Study of Scope and Characteristics, Verite presented findings from a two-year investigation funded by the US Department of Labour.

Verite claimed that 32 per cent of nearly 200,000 foreign workers in Malaysia's electronic sector were working under forced-labour conditions. It added that the biggest percentage, 40 per cent, were Vietnamese.

It said that Vietnamese workers had their passports retained and had to work overtime to pay off the debt from excessive recruitment fees.

Each Vietnamese worker had to pay 3,500 Malaysian Ringgit (US$1,080) in recruitment fees – higher than workers from other countries, including Myanmar, Indonesia and Nepal.

At the same time, they received the smallest wage – less than 1,000 Malaysian Ringgit ($308) a month.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese competent officials told the Dai doan ket (Great Unity) newspaper that the department had never received any complaints about workers' abuses since Viet Nam started sending labourers to Malaysia in 2002.

Tong Hai Nam from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Overseas Labour Management Department, said an assessment of salaries, living and working conditions were made before sending workers to another country.

He said the department had asked the management board to check the situation.

He also claimed that the total of $1,080 in recruitment fees was not unreasonable, claiming it was the amount labour exporters were allowed to collect from labourers.

According to Nam, the Verite report was inadequate because it only involved interviews with 501 labourers from eight countries. The study itself only said that there were signs of abuses.

However, the International Labour Organisation said it was seriously concerned about the findings of the study, and had real problems with working conditions, employment and recruitment practices that needed to be urgently addressed.

Figures from Viet Nam labour ministry showed that there are 80,000 Vietnamese labourers working in Malaysia. Last year, another 7,000 labourers were sent. — VNS

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