Thursday, September 18, 2014

Report Finds Forced Labor Widespread in Malaysia

The Obama Administration's goal, via the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, of giving Malaysia duty-free access to the American market may have received a setback this week in the form of a report on the widespread use of forced labor in that nation.

Malaysia’s electronics sector workforce includes hundreds of thousands of foreign migrant workers who come to Malaysia on the promise of a good salary and steady work – an opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their families. But many are subject to high recruitment fees, personal debt, complicated recruitment processes, lack of transparency about their eventual working conditions, and inadequate legal protections. Unscrupulous behavior on the part of employers or third-party employment agents can exacerbate vulnerability to exploitation, but the system in which foreign workers are recruited, placed and managed is complex enough to create vulnerability even in the absence of willful intent to exploit. The conditions faced by foreign electronics workers in Malaysia have the potential to result in forced labor.

In 2012, the not-for-profit organization Verité received funding from the US Department of Labor to conduct a study to determine whether such forced labor does, in fact, exist in the production of electronic goods in Malaysia. READ THE REPORT HERE.

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