Rights specialist: Don’t let Brightway off the hook, keep tabs on it

A migrant workers’ rights specialist urged the Malaysian Government to keep the recently raided glove maker in Port Klang under its radar, to ensure no abuses ever happen again.

Migrant worker rights specialist, Andy Hall told FocusM that he had received information that the company, Brightway Group (Biopro) to have placed much of its 2,700 strong migrant workers in surrounding hostels and other areas before the raid on Dec 25.

“My sources report most of these workers were suddenly moved back to their accommodation from lunchtime on Dec 25, after being allegedly forced to relocate for around one and half days in poor conditions, apparently, following the Health Ministry’s (MOH) inspection at Biopro on the morning of Dec 25.

“This information from my sources would match the information reported by the media suggesting there was a follow up inspection by MOH a day after the raid on Dec 25,” he said.

Two days ago, it was reported that glove maker raided by the authorities for failing to adhere to COVID-19 standard operating procedure (SOP) and the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446) received a mere slap on the wrist, instead of being shut down.

According to English daily, The Star, the glove maker was merely issued a fine of RM1,000.

It was earlier said that the factory was supposed to be shut down after it was found breaking several laws. A statement released yesterday showed that only a compound was issued against it.

Several online news portals also claimed that the glove maker received tip-off from “Government insiders” before the raid, allowing the former time to “clean up” before inspection.

Yesterday, Human Resource Minister (MOHR) M Saravanan confirmed that the glove maker was tipped-off before the multi-agency raid took place.

“Although we received solid evidence that the workers’ dormitories were not in compliance with Act 446, and we organised a raid, the information was leaked.

“Before we arrived at the factory, the employer moved the workers out from their cramped rooms to a nearby hotel, in order to evade authorities,” Saravanan was reported saying.

Officers were in the know of the leak

Referring to the matter, Hall said he himself had informed the MOHR that information was being leaked to the company prior to the raid, allowing the glove maker ample time to make last-minute changes to their migrant workers’ accommodation and remove an estimated 2,000 employees from the site.

Hall added that he even tipped off the minister and other related officials on the possible locations Brightway may have relocated their workers.

“And I continued to share information on the locations of workers allegedly removed from Brightway on Dec 24 and 25 with Malaysian officials, via emails.

“As far as I know, I am not aware that any Malaysian Government officials sought to inspect or engage workers in the locations in which they were allegedly held,” Hall remarked.

On related matter, Hall said that he received information saying that Brightway will be conducting COVID-19 tests on its workers today, claiming some of them have contracted the virus.

He also claimed that the glove maker had shifted some of its workers to work in other premises since the shutdown.

“I urge Government officials to conduct follow up inspections into the operations and labour conditions at Brightway factories to ensure there are no ongoing indicators of forced labour present in the company.

“I also note Saravanan’s recent comments that the activities of this factory will remain under scrutiny, and hope indeed this is the case,” Hall added. – Dec 27, 2020.

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