2 Major Factories In Malaysia Have Been Accused Of Abusing Their Workers

Workers are allegedly forced to work seven days a week, a minimum of 12 hours a day, and are only granted one leave day per month.

Cover image via Bloomberg

Two big Malaysian companies were recently accused of allegedly abusing their factory workers by overworking them and withholding their passports and wages

An investigation by The Guardian revealed yesterday, 9 December, that the two glove manufacturing companies – Top Glove and WRP – allegedly exploit thousands of migrant workers from Bangladesh and Nepal.

Image via ABC

Several workers from Top Glove informed The Guardian that working at the factory was pure "mental torture"

They claimed that they have to work seven days a week, a minimum of 12 hours a day, and were only granted one day of leave per month.

The 16 employees, who were interviewed by the news portal, said that their passports were also taken from them without consent and were not returned when requested.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Reuters

"It's like a prison here," said one Nepalese worker from Top Glove, who was interviewed by ABC News.

He was promised fair working conditions before coming to Malaysia but discovered that life became a lot harder when he arrived.

"They make their own rules, it's not ILO (International Labour Organisation) rules," he said.

Top Glove has since released a statement denying the allegations, saying that it adheres to labour laws

"Lengthy working hours are our main concern and we continue to explore every possible way to address the issue of our workers' excessive daily OT," read Top Glove's statement, according to The Guardian.

"We assure you that the allegations are entirely unfounded and such allegations tarnish our good name," it stated, adding that it follows "local labour law requirements."

In addition, the company claimed that it does not confiscate workers' passports unless it is for "safekeeping" purposes, to which the workers sign consent forms. 

Meanwhile, three workers from WRP also claimed that they were "trapped" at work and toiled overtime excessively

The workers said that their passports were confiscated and their pay was illegally withheld.

One employee from Nepal reportedly ran away after not receiving his pay for four months. He told The Guardian through text that, "More than a thousand workers have not got their salary."

"I need my salary, please help me," he added.

Image via WRP

However, WRP chief executive denied the claims against the company and called them "baseless"

Chief executive Lee Son Hong said that the company never forced their employees to work for more than 12 hours a day without resting a day during the week and employees were paid once every month according to the Malaysian Employee Act.

According to Lee, the workers are also free to go anywhere they like and their passports are easily retrievable from their lockers.

On Thursday, 6 December, an exposé by Thomson Reuters Foundation also revealed that health gloves supplied to National Health Service UK came from the alleged "labour abusing" company Top Glove

The foundation claimed that workers had to work long hours, some were forced to work illegally overtime to pay off huge debts to recruitment agents.

Top Glove, which has more than 11,000 migrant workers in Malaysia, said it would cut off ties with unethical recruitment agents, reported Free Malaysia Today

Malay Mail reported today that UK is currently launching an investigation into the matter.

Top Glove has yet to comment on the launch of the investigation.

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