Activist: Migrant workers at Top Glove on the edge

MIGRANT workers employed by Top Glove Corp Bhd are increasingly becoming livid as life is not getting any better for them despite their employer being investigated by the authorities for multiple breach of laws.

“The newly relocated staff in Westlite (hostel) are saying that they may boycott the company by not going to work if their concerns such as forced relocation and poor accommodation quality are not addressed.

“And I have promised to highlight their plight to the company’s management and Government officials,” migrant worker rights specialist Andy Hall told FocusM.

Recently, the Labour Department announced that it has opened 19 investigation papers against Top Glove on allegations of flouting the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446).

The company also landed in hot soup after one of its employees, Yam Narayan Chaudhray, a 29-year-old Nepali security guard died due to complications from COVID-19 On Dec 12. He was stationed at Top Glove’s 13th factory in Meru, Klang.

Touching on the workers’ complaints, Hall said the management had been informed that the current accommodation place was too far from the factories, leaving them with long hours of travel and little rest time.

“And instead of addressing their concerns, Top Glove had told them to just take rest in the bus during their travel to work ‘instead of chit chatting to maximise rest hour per day’.

“However, they protested saying the suggestion was not in the spirit of Top Glove’s own policy of promoting a healthy life. Besides, you cannot compensate for adequate sleep cycle by napping in a crowded bus on the way to work every morning,” noted Hall.

Hall added that the transport buses itself were tardy, with evidence showing workers waking up and waiting for more than one hour for the buses to arrive and take them to the factory, eventually clocking in around 8am or later at the factory.

The migrant workers, he said, had demanded for the management to issue an official memo to confirm that they would not be penalised for late bus arrivals.

“They sought clarity about exceptions of lateness but generally, they are sceptical about Top Glove’s promises,” Hall remarked.

On their current accommodation, Hall claimed that he received reports from his sources that the migrant workers were having problems procuring proper food.

He added that the rooms had no mosquito nets installed and had poor ventilation due to insufficient numbers of fans.

“They are clueless on why they were moved abruptly to an unprepared accommodation. Plus, they also face issues getting provisions as there are little convenience stores nearby.

“The workers don’t want to be forced to a distant location as they feel their freedom of movement is heavily constricted in the new hostels, which one worker described it as like ‘living life in massive cages without basic freedoms.’” Hall said.

Tan Sri Lim Wee Chai

On that note, the veteran activist said the affected workers did their best to highlight the matter to the management, including executive chairman and founder Tan Sri Lim Wee Chai, when the latter visited the premises yesterday.

“While some management staff seemed to emphatic of their plight, I have received reports that others used foul language to respond to the complaints,” Hall alleged.

Meanwhile, Klang MP Charles Santiago urged Top Glove employees to lodge complaints to the Peninsula Malaysia Labour Department (JKTSM).

“They canalso call up the Malaysia Trades Union Congress (MTUC) or other unions to highlight the matter,” he told FocusM.

The lawmaker said that people are getting fed up – especially among Klang folks – as the rising number of COVID-19 cases at the constituency is linked to the glove factories located there.

“The authorities must act fast. We cannot compromise the safety of an entire community just to please a select few,” Santiago added. – Dec 28, 2020.

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