Thursday, November 06, 2014
Should liability for workers of companies be extended to personal liability of Directors and owners?
Foreign workers in Johor who had previously been unpaid and were in starving conditions have finally received their long overdue salaries.
Johor Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) migrant workers’ support centre coordinator Mohd Salleh Ahmad told Malaysiakini that the workers started receiving their pay yesterday.
The factory went into receivership on Oct 30.
However, the salaries, which were for the months of August and September, were paid by the receiver and not the factory owner.
The workers were abandoned when the furniture factory, located in Ledang, Johor, went bankrupt.
Penniless since August, they were forced to sell their personal belongings such as bicycles and motorbikes to buy food.
Mohd Salleh said the workers were told they will only receive their salaries and will not be compensated for what they had to sell to feed themselves.
He also told Malaysiakini the workers’ passports are still in the hands of the factory owner, under the supervision of the receiver, as they are worried that the employees will run away.
The workers, over 500 of them, will be sent back home in stages.
“After the receiver has paid all the workers in a week’s time, they will be sent back to their countries of origin,” he said.
More than 500 factory migrant workers are now in a limbo because the factory that hired them has gone bankrupt and the owners are allegedly holding to their passports.
Johor Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) secretary Mohanandas Krishnan said that the furniture factory in Ledang, closed its operations on Oct 1, without any prior notice to the workers.
“50 workers from Pakistan, more than 100 from Bangladesh, 40 from Myanmar, 300 from Nepal, 10 from Indonesia, 1 Sri Lankan and 50 Malaysians,” Mohanandas estimated there may be more than this in a statement.
“The company did not pay the salary for the month of August and September to all the workers. On the 1.10.2014 the company closed its operation without notice. The workers demanded their unpaid salary from the employer but till to-date there is no answer from the employer. They also in the dark as to their status of employement,” said Mohanandas.
One of the Bangladeshi migrant workers had lodged a police report at Grisek Police station.
“The migrant workers have no money to buy their daily meals. They even sold their posessions like bicycles, motorbikes, gas stoves and personal belongings so that they can get some money to buy food.
“Some of the workers were given the choice to work with other employers in different locations to which the workers refused,” said Mohanandas.
MTUC said that workers fear the legal implication if they take the offer to work elsewhere, because the present employer is silent when asked on transfer status if they work for other employers.
“These workers are vulnerable to legal, social, welfare, health and mental conditions. Some of the workers’ permits have expired since 2.10.14. The employer has abandoned them in this undesirable condition.
Even when they were employed, MTUC said that the hostel the workers were housed in was cramped with more than 20 workers per house
“RM 50 per person deducted for the hostel and RM30 plus for electricity and water. Despite the monthly salary deduction of the electricity and water the water bill shows employer has not paying the water bill which amounts to more than RM10,000.
“This causes concern what if the water and electricity is disconnected , it would worsen their conditions.
“The migrant workers’ passports are in the employers’ possession and some of the migrants’ permits already expired . What choice do they have now?
“The employer must take responsibility on the workers’ plight. Pay their arrears, sort out their permits and look into their welfare,” said Mohanandas, who appealed to the relevant authorities to expedite their efforts to sort out these migrants’ problems. - Malaysiakini, 13/10/2014, Factory goes bust, 500 migrants abandoned