by ASILA JALIL / pic by TMR FILE
THE Human Resources Ministry is open to cooperate with the United States and United Kingdom to address issues surrounding forced labour.
Its minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan (picture) said trafficking issues which consist of forced labour aspects is a significant challenge faced by the country, especially in the efforts to protect labour rights as well as ensuring compliance to the labour laws.
“Therefore, I welcome the offer from US Ambassador to Malaysia Brian D McFeeters and UK High Commissioner Charles Hay to cooperate on combating these issues. They are also willing to share their countries’ experience with the challenge.
“The cooperation can be done via the National Action Plan on Forced Labour which was launched last year. I will meet US and UK diplomatic representatives to discuss this matter in more detail,” said Saravanan in a statement today.
He said the efforts to overcome forced labour is an ongoing initiative that needs to be enhanced from time to time.
Malaysia has legislation that touches on human trafficking crime including forced labour issues.
Saravanan said his ministry is committed to ensure the issue is handled systematically with proposed amendments on the Employment Act 1955 (Act 265) in March by including provisions related to forced labour.
The proposal is an extension to the expansion of the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing, Accommodations and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446) in relation to the housing aspects for all job sectors that was done in September 2020, said the minister.
“Besides, I have also ordered MoHR to continue its cooperation with diplomatic representatives from source countries, in addition to international organisations such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on awareness and advocacy programmes.
“This is mainly to convey information to employees, including foreign labourers,” he added.
Saravanan said the forced labour issue has become the main topic of discussion in bilateral negotiations with source countries for foreign workers.
He had given his commitment to protect the rights and welfare of all employees in the country, including foreign workers.
“In addition, the ministry will also cooperate with the ILO to host a National Dialogue on Labour Force in March which will involve all stakeholders,” he added.
Several Malaysian companies have been challenged with forced labour allegations that have put the country in the spotlight.
The allegations were linked to companies in the electronic and rubber gloves manufacturing sectors as well as palm oil plantations.
In December last year, ATA IMS, a Malaysian supplier for Dyson which makes parts for its electronic equipment was faced with forced labour allegations following an audit of the company’s labour practises and allegations by a whistleblower.
Sime Darby Plantation Bhd and FGV Holdings Bhd were also slapped with a ban by the US Customs and Border Protection due to labour practises.