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26 Jun 2024

Malaysia: Dyson faces suit from former workers of Malaysian supplier claiming co. was unjustly enriched from exploitative conditions at factory

We believe it is vital the English High Court continues to hear claims against UK-based companies where harm has allegedly occurred in their overseas operations or in their supply chains to ensure access to justice for foreign claimants.
Oliver Holland, Leigh Day Partner

A Reuters media report published in February 2022 alleged that Dyson is facing claims from ten former workers of its Malaysian supplier, ATA IMS (ATA). The article quotes a statement from a British law firm Leigh Day alleging that “Dyson was unjustly enriched as a result of the unlawful, exploitative and dangerous conditions at the factory”. Further, the article alleged that ATA “had coached staff ahead of labour inspections to hide true working and living conditions, and employed foreigners without permits”.

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Dyson and ATA to respond to the allegations. Neither companies responded.

Later, in October 2022, The Guardian reported Dyson sued Channel 4 over allegations of abuse in a Channel 4 news report, claiming the allegations were 'defamatory'. The report included interviews with workers at ATA Industrial who alleged they faced abusive conditions at the factory. At the end of October 2022, it was reported that the high court dismissed Dyson's libel claim against Channel 4 news. In July 2023 the libel claim dismissal was successfully appealed by Dyson.

A later series of articles in November 2022 shed light on legal claims brought by 24 migrant workers against Dyson, alleging forced labour and abusive working conditions when working in two factories owned by the ATA Industrial group producing Dyson products.

In July 2023, Leigh Day reports the migrant workers’ claims against Dyson Group will be heard at the High Court between 17 and 19 July 2023 when the judge will decide whether the claims can proceed; Dyson is arguing the case be heard in Malaysia and disputes there is sufficient connection to the UK for it to be heard there. The claims are being brought forward by 23 workers and one deceased workers' estate. The claims relate to a number of labour rights violations that occurred at an ATA Industrial factory in Jahor that largely produced products for Dyson’s vacuum cleaner, lighting, haircare, heaters and fan ranges. The human rights violations mentioned in the article include, among other abuses, the payment of recruitment fees the equivalent of several months’ wages , violence, poor living conditions, and exposure to extremely hazardous working conditions.

In October 2023, the English High Court declined to exercise jurisdiction in the case brought against Dyson by over 20 Nepalese and Bangladeshi migrant workers alleging poor working conditions.

In May 2024, the workers were granted permission to appeal the decision that their case against Dyson should not be heard in the English Courts. The appeal hearing will take place in November 2024.

The abuse I have faced has caused me a great deal of pain and distress. I thought by showing the conditions we were facing at the ATA factory, Dyson would take steps to help the workers, but instead I was punished. I hope that now Dyson will listen to the issues the workers have faced and take action to help us rebuild our lives.
Claimant in Dyson case to be heard in High Court in July 2023



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