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Article

14 Feb 2022

Author:
Aruna Kashyap, Human Rights Watch

Workers Sue Dyson on Allegations of Forced Labor in Malaysian Supplier

Migrant workers from Nepal and Bangladesh are suing a widely recognized British brand, household appliance manufacturer, Dyson, over complaints of forced labor and other dangerous working conditions at one of its supplier factories in Malaysia.

The plaintiffs are former employees of Malaysia-based ATA Industrial, a long-term, major Dyson supplier.

Andy Hall, a migrant workers’ rights specialist, first brought the workers’ complaints to Dyson’s attention in 2019. A Dyson representative said on a Channel 4 program that the company conducted six audits of ATA between November 2019 and June 2021. The final in-depth audit conducted by ELEVATE reportedly identified major forced labor risks. To date, none of these audit reports have been made public…

The plaintiffs are suing in England, and while the case is in the pre-action stage, Dyson’s Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement 2020 outlines how the company conducts risk assessments, as recommended by UK-based business membership organization, Sedex

Irrespective of the ultimate findings in this specific case, the lawsuit is a reminder that social audits, or periodic inspections of working conditions that span a few days, have limitations.

Social audits have become somewhat commonplace, but human rights advocates and even some firms with decades of experience conducting these audits have serious concerns about their effectiveness in detecting and correcting abuses like forced labor…

Yet many companies still rely on social audits and certifications as the primary vehicle to check whether their suppliers meet their private codes of conduct governing decent work.

It is increasingly becoming clear that generally, more is needed