OUR company is working hard to address concerns related to the plight of migrant workers and we hope everyone would be patient in the meantime.
This was the response given by glove maker, Smart Glove Holdings Sdn Bhd in a statement sighted by FocusM with regard to several accusations levelled against the Klang-based company.
Sources told FocusM that Smart Glove has been involved with certain issues involving its migrant workers, notably high recruitment fee, poor accommodation quality and excessive overtime work.
On the first issue, sources said that foreign workers at Smart Glove have yet to recover from the company any reimbursements of their high recruitment fees paid in the past – which is up to RM20,000 for Bangladeshi workers.
Some of the workers claimed to remain in a situation akin to debt bondage, that could be considered “S”, an International Labour Organization (ILO) forced labour indicator.
In addition, workers have shared photos of their accommodation which does not seem to comply with the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446), also a forced labour indicator under ILO standards.
However, Smart Glove dismissed all the allegations levelled against it.
On the recruitment fee issue, the glove maker said during their engagement with both Nepalese and Bangladeshi representatives, the former was informed that the amount varied from one another.
“Each of them claimed they have paid ranging from RM3,000 to RM7,000 on the part of Nepali workers and RM12,000 to RM20,000 in the case of Bangladeshi workers.
“We are also trying to ascertain to whom were the payments made to, including what we are told are local Nepali and Bangladeshi agents as the case may be,” the company said.
Smart Glove added they have contacted the Nepali and Bangladeshi consulates and are waiting for a meeting date.
In the meantime, the company said it has assisted workers to recover a total of RM4,800 – at RM300 a month over 16 months starting last month – to cover expenses in respect of items such as passport, medical, hotel accommodation and flight ticket.
“However, we are aware of the presence of unscrupulous recruitment agencies/agents out there and the apparent non-standard fees they charge not only to our employees but other foreign workers,” it added.
On the workers’ accommodation issue, Smart Glove said it had contracted to purchase a whole block of apartments as additional living quarters for its employees.
“The vendor has indicated that the block of apartments will be handed over with vacant possession, in March, thus enable us to do some renovation.
“We are also looking at incorporating a mini-market and canteen. We expect that these apartments, together with our existing hostels, will improve and enhance the living environment for our employees,” Smart Glove pointed out.
On another note, the company said that employees working overtime are in full compliance of overtime-related regulation as mandated by the relevant local laws and for which employees are fully compensated.
“In our engagement with the representatives of our foreign employees, they have indicated their wish that the current overtime be maintained to earn extra income to support their parents and families.
“But we work within the law. With that, we have recently engaged with the Peninsula Malaysia Labour Department and have invited them to visit us to audit our employees’ working hours to ensure compliance,” it said.
Meanwhile, migrant workers’ rights specialist Andy Hall told FocusM that he had referred the matter to the Human Resources Ministry (MOHR) for further deliberation.
“I have informed MOHR of the issue involving Smart Glove’s migrant workers but they have yet to respond,” he said. – Jan 12, 2021.