Malaysia: Panasonic & Samsung face allegations that workers in their supply chains are being cheated, exploited & underpaid; companies launch investigations
Author: Pete Pattisson, Guardian (UK), Published on: 21 November 2016
"Samsung and Panasonic accused over supply chain labour abuses in Malaysia"
Samsung and Panasonic, two of the world’s leading electronics brands, are facing allegations that workers in their supply chains are being duped, exploited and underpaid in Malaysia.
The two companies have launched investigations into allegations of abuse made by Nepalese workers after a Guardian investigation raised multiple concerns about their treatment.
The men said they had been deceived about pay, had their passports confiscated and had been told that they must pay large fines if they wanted to return to Nepal before the end of their contract. They also claimed they were forced to work for up to 14 hours on their feet without adequate rest, and with restricted toilet breaks, in an attempt to settle recruitment fees of up to £1,000 – they said they had to pay this money to secure their jobs…
Both Panasonic and Samsung forbid their suppliers from confiscating passports or charging migrant workers recruitment fees. Yet all the men interviewed by the Guardian claimed they paid up to £1,000 to recruitment agents in Nepal to secure their jobs in Malaysia. They all also claimed that their passports were confiscated on arrival in the country, illegal under Malaysian employment law…
“Brands working in Malaysia have to recognise that the standard operating procedure for labour contractors is debt bondage and this has ramifications,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch in Asia.
“Taking someone from Nepal and putting them in a factory in Malaysia costs money, and if these costs are not being factored into the price of a phone, or a microwave or a speaker, then they are complicit in a system that expects the workers to suffer as a result.”