Malaysia: Crackdown on agencies which ill-treat foreign workers

The Labour Department is going all out to catch and charge employers and outsourcing companies which mistreat foreign workers. Its enforcement director Khamis A. R. Majid said 300 officers had begun nationwide spot checks. “This is a year of prosecution for such culprits. We have encountered a number of cases already and such cases must stop,” he said on Monday after delivering a paper at a seminar on ‘Developing Comprehensive Policy Framework for Migrant Labour’.

Khamis said outsourcing companies would be their main target given that many had promised jobs to foreign workers who ended up living in squalid conditions and had to endure frequent job changes that differed from their original offer.

He said no mercy would be shown to those who committed offences against foreign workers including non-payment or excessive deduction of wages and not providing them with insurance as required by law under the Foreign Workers Compensation Scheme.

There are about 200 outsourcing companies in the country. Cases against such companies and errant employers have been cropping up more often recently.

Khamis said, as at Dec 31 last year, Malaysia had a workforce of 11.46 million. Of this, 81.8% were local workers and some 2.04 million were foreign workers. This does not include illegal workers in the country, which was around 1.2 million.

The bulk of documented foreign workers came from Indonesia (1.15 million), followed by Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Vietnam and Myanmar.

“A total of 1,487 complaints were received from foreign workers over the last three years, of which 431 were for last year,” he said, adding Indonesian workers chalked up the highest number of complaints. (The Star

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