Malaysia steps up efforts to address exploitative practices concerning migrant labourers

malaysia steps up efforts to address exploitative practices concerning migrant labourers

malaysia steps up efforts to address exploitative practices concerning migrant labourers

In an effort to stamp out exploitation and manpower imbalances that have left thousands of migrant labourers stranded without jobs, Malaysia is set to review bilateral agreements with 15 countries it sources the workers from, according to officials.

Labour exploitation has become a matter of serious concern globally. More than 70% of Malaysia’s migrant labour includes people from Indonesia, Bangladesh and Nepal. The remainder comes from countries like India, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Exploitative practices and uneven distribution of labourers

Since 2023, scores of migrants have been left in limbo after arriving in Malaysia, as they get informed that the jobs promised to them in exchange for steep recruitment fees are no longer available. People from Bangladesh and Nepal have been notably affected.

The concerning circumstances surrounding the migrant labourers coincided with concerns over workplace abuses in Malaysia, amid several companies facing US bans over the use of forced labour. Numerous labourers raised alarm over not receiving compensation.

Malaysia’s labour and home affairs ministers spoke to reporters late on Tuesday, raising serious concerns over the uneven distribution of labourers across the economy, prompting a need to review the aforementioned bilateral agreements.

Firms involved in hiring migrant labourers probed

The ministers said the country still had a shortage of labour in the agriculture and plantations sector, but quotas have been exceeded in other industries. The agreements shall be revisited, looking at different elements including fees, costs, contract conditions and health.

Human Resources Minister Steven Sim said authorities had completed probes into five firms involved in hiring hundreds of migrant labourers, who later found themselves without jobs. Employers must pay the people even though they do not have jobs, he added.

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