Malaysia: investigation finds recruitment fees charged to migrant workers in Samsung's supply chain

A report from The Guardian reveals recruitment fees charged to migrant workers, and the withholding of workers' passports, at Samsung's suppliers in Malaysia. Workers are reportedly afraid to speak out about their working conditions, for fear of violence. Samsung has published a response to the allegation, in which it reports that it is conducting an investigation into the information published by The Guardian, and that it will put in place the necessary remedies should its investigation reveal similar allegations.

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Company response
12 March 2019

Samsung: follow-up response

Author: Samsung Electronics

"12 March 2019: Samsung Electronics' reply to the Guardian article (November 8th 2018) on Malaysia"

Samsung Electronics has investigated the allegations in the Guardian article on Malaysia…we have identified issues relating to the employment of migrant workers. Corrective Action Plans have been implemented…

The Samsung Electronics Malaysia (SEMA) plant in Selangor produces microwave ovens for the global market...In November 2018, following the publication of the allegations in the Guardian…we promptly conducted additional on-site audits of all 6 sub-contracting suppliers to the SEMA plant... 

We interviewed 95 migrant workers from Bangladesh, Indonesia and Nepal and surveyed all migrant workers (117) at our Malaysian facility.

The audit team identified the following key issues: 

- 54% of workers from 3 sub-contractors had their passports held in a safe. Of those, 85% gave their written consent for the employer to hold their passport.

- 61% of workers from 3 sub-contractors paid recruitment fees. 

As a result of the November 2018 audits, corrective action plans were put in place...Improvements to date include: 

- As of February 2019, passport retention was 0%...

- All 6 sub-contractors revised their policies to include prohibition of unlawful deduction of recruitment fees and levies starting January 2019. 

- Meanwhile other issues such as housing conditions and repayment of recruitment fees and levies paid by workers are progressing towards improvement. Two sub-contractors are developing their reimbursement plan. 


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Company response
19 November 2018

Samsung's response

Author: Samsung

 "Samsung Electronics’ reply to the Guardian article (November 8th 2018) on Malaysia"

"Samsung Electronics is committed to ensuring good and safe work conditions for employees at our facilities and at suppliers. We take all allegations very seriously and are currently investigating as a matter of priority the information that was shared in the article published by The Guardian on November 8 2018 regarding recruitment fees and other impacts for migrant workers at sub-contractors in our factory. 

We want to reiterate that Samsung has committed to ensure that neither Samsung employees nor employees of sub-contractors and suppliers pay recruitment fees. If our investigation reveals that issues still exist with recruitment fees for sub-contracted workers, we will ensure repayment of fees to the workers via our sub-contractors, and put in place other necessary remedies.

Through this letter to the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, we would like to share more information on the policies we have in place committing our company to respect the rights of migrant workers as well as the actions we are taking to address the alleged impacts...we want to emphasize that the impacts alleged in the article with regard to sub-contractors’ employees...are strictly prohibited under our policies."

Read the full document here.

Download the full document here

8 November 2018

Investigation finds recruitment fees paid by migrant workers in Samsung's supply chain in Malaysia

Author: The Guardian

"Samsung should try imagining a world where big firms respect workers", 8 November 2018

Two years ago, I travelled to Malaysia to investigate the treatment of...foreign migrants working at Samsung. Samsung...announced improved guidelines for the recruitment and treatment of foreign migrant workers...In September, I returned to see if they had lived up to their promises.

At first, there were some positive signs...those recruited directly by Samsung since 2016 said they had not paid any recruitment fees. I wanted to see if the same applied for workers further down the supply chain...I went back to the factory and followed a group of men heading the end of their shift...They said they paid vast sums to come to Malaysia, some as high as £3,500...but were earning less than promised...“My employer has my passport, so if I want to go back home, I can’t,” [a worker] said...“They didn’t ask us how much we paid to come here…so there’s no question of us being repaid”... 

They worried that if they spoke to me they would be deported or punished. One worker, referring to his direct employer, told me: “If they know I gave you an interview, they will take me to some place and beat me up.” 

Samsung...responded with a statement: “We will conduct thorough investigation on this matter that you have shared with us. As a committed member of the global community, Samsung will continue our efforts to both respect and protect human rights of the migrant workers.”

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