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9 Apr 2020

Electronics Watch

Malaysia: Migrant workers in electronics sector face restriction of movement and are incentivised to return to work despite health risks

COVID-19 Updates from Monitoring Partners, 9 April 2020

Dhurba Thapa, a migrant worker rights monitor and ex-electronics worker explains the current situation of migrant workers in Malaysia within different sectors including electronics, rubber gloves, and security with the main source of information coming from existing workers in Malaysia:

Some companies are still running where they have permission from the government to operate a certain percentage of production for essential medical devices or tools. Electronics companies have implemented different standards for local and migrant workers. Whereas local workers are permitted to leave factories and to use public transport, bringing a high risk of infection, migrant workers' movements outside of accommodation are restricted because of safety concerns. Migrant workers are prevented from going to bigger supermarkets due to the lockdown and instead have to use smaller, more expensive shops. Migrant workers who want to send money to their families are prevented from doing so due to the lockdown.

Some companies are paying workers an additional allowance of around 50 Malaysian ringgit (£9.25) to incentivise them to work despite the risks. Even where companies provide hand sanitiser and masks, workers fear infection because of crowded workplaces, entries and exits, and because of workers' outside movements. Companies are advised that only very important and highly essential production should run; that they should provide local workers with food and temporary accommodation near the factory; and that they should arrange temporary rules to avoid using the same entrance for all workers and to implement and follow-up on safety rules including cleaning and social distancing.