Saturday, December 31, 2016

Samsung and Panasonic accused over supply chain labour abuses in Malaysia (Guardian)

* There is always the option to directly employ workers, so the using of workers supplied by labour suppliers('contractors for labour') is just a means to avoid employer obligations...When worker abuses is highlighted - so easy to simply turn around and say...' we did do it, it was the 'suppliers'..? The use of these workers supplied by labour suppliers is a PRECARIOUS EMPLOYMENT PRACTICE. It also results in DISCRIMINATION at the workplace - workers doing the same work end up with different wages and rights. It also weakens Trade Unions and can be said a 'union busting' practice. These 'supplied workers' working under the supervision of the workplace owners are not considered 'employees' of the workplace - rather employees of the 'labour suppliers', as such would not be able to enjoy even the benefits of Collective Bargaining Agreements which will only benefit employees of the workplace...

Samsung and Panasonic accused over supply chain labour abuses in Malaysia

Migrant workers making goods for the global electronics brands claim they are trapped and exploited in Malaysia

Samsung and Panasonic, two of the world’s leading electronics brands, are facing allegations that workers in their supply chains are being duped, exploited and underpaid in Malaysia.

The two companies have launched investigations into allegations of abuse made by Nepalese workers after a Guardian investigation raised multiple concerns about their treatment.

The men said they had been deceived about pay, had their passports confiscated and had been told that they must pay large fines if they wanted to return to Nepal before the end of their contract. They also claimed they were forced to work for up to 14 hours on their feet without adequate rest, and with restricted toilet breaks, in an attempt to settle recruitment fees of up to £1,000 – they said they had to pay this money to secure their jobs.

They said they felt “cheated” and trapped in their factory jobs making or assembling components for household electrical goods sold on the global market. 

“My heart is aching,” said one young man who works in a factory making Samsung microwaves. “I was not given the job I was promised. I am doing very difficult work. I haven’t got the salary they said I would get.”

The Guardian spoke to 30 Nepalese migrants making products for Samsung and Panasonic. Some of those working for Samsung are employed directly by the company, but the majority are hired through a labour supply company. The workers assembling or making parts for Panasonic are employed by subcontracting companies.

Both Panasonic and Samsung forbid their suppliers from confiscating passports or charging migrant workers recruitment fees. Yet all the men interviewed by the Guardian claimed they paid up to £1,000 to recruitment agents in Nepal to secure their jobs in Malaysia. They all also claimed that their passports were confiscated on arrival in the country, illegal under Malaysian employment law.

Workers said this restricts their freedom of movement and leaves them open to detention by the authorities.

Without their passports, the workers said they couldn’t freely leave their jobs and return home without paying fines equivalent to three or four months’ basic salary.

Both Samsung and Panasonic have said they are opening investigations into the conduct of their suppliers following the claims.

The use of labour supply companies and subcontractors is common practice for foreign firms making goods for export in Malaysia but is a system ripe for abuse, according to labour rights groups in the country.

Workers making Samsung products said they were threatened by supervisors at their labour supply company when they said they were unhappy with their work and wanted to return home. “They told us, ‘If you don’t work, or leave without paying, we’ll bury you in Malaysia,’” said one man.

Workers for the labour supply company used by Samsung also claimed they were deceived about the nature and conditions of their work. They said they had been forced to pay illegal fees by recruitment agents used by their labour supply company hours before they departed for their new jobs. Some said the salary they were promised in Nepal was higher than the pay they were now receiving in Malaysia.

“I wouldn’t have come here if I had known the real conditions and salary. I was manipulated,” said one man.

“[The labour supply company in Nepal] are using the name of Samsung to cheat people,” said another worker. “We have been cheated, but we don’t want others to be cheated.”

Other Nepalese workers said they paid between 90,000-115,000 rupees (£685-£875) to a labour recruitment agency in Kathmandu used by Samsung, despite a 2015 cap on recruitment fees set at 10,000 rupees (£75) by the Nepalese government in 2015.

“I paid 115,000 rupees, but the agent only gave me a receipt for 10,000 rupees. He told me that if I was stopped at the airport I should say that that is all I paid,” said one man working at Samsung’s microwave plant. “I knew the agent was cheating me, but what could I do?”

A spokesperson from Samsung said: “As a committed member of the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), we comply fully with the EICC’s Code of Conduct and have found no evidence of violations in the hiring process of migrant workers hired directly by our manufacturing facility in Malaysia.

Once there is any complaint, we take swift actions to investigate.

“We are currently conducting on-site investigations of labour supply companies we work with in Malaysia and the migrant employees hired by these companies. If any violations are uncovered, we will make immediate corrective actions and moving forward we will suspend our business with companies that are found to be in violation.”

In a factory in the capital, exhausted workers making parts for Panasonic spoke of having to work week after week of 14-hour shifts to try to repay the money they gave to recruitment agents in Nepal. Some said they were still far off paying their debts 15 months after arriving in Malaysia. Others claimed they had been told by their companies they must pay the equivalent of three months’ wages if they left before the end of their contract.

“If I could find a way to go back, I’d leave right now but I am trapped by my debts,” said one Nepalese worker, who makes parts for Panasonic. “95% of workers here would do the same.”

Workers assembling Panasonic products in the southern city of Johor Bahru said that they sometimes only received 700 ringgit (£133) a month – half of what they were promised – after production slowed due to a lack of orders.

“We know our earnings are below minimum wage, but what can we do about it?” said one of the workers.

“We feel terrible because we have a big loan to pay back. You have to work for three years just to pay it off.”

Life beyond the assembly line is difficult too. In accommodation visited by the Guardian, workers were living in a grim hostel in an industrial area in Johor with 14 men crammed into one mouldy room. They all shared one broken toilet and two shower cubicles, which opened directly on to a cooking area with a single gas cooker.

In an emailed statement, Panasonic said, “Panasonic will conduct a full investigation into the claims made by the Guardian. We are taking these allegations very seriously and if, in fact, we discover that one of our suppliers has violated such laws or regulations, we will ensure and require them to take necessary corrective action immediately.

“We expect all of our suppliers to strictly comply with our CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility] policy and declaration. These expectations are outlined in Panasonic’s contracted terms and conditions with each supplier. We do not tolerate breaches of these terms.”

The workers interviewed by the Guardian also complained about conditions inside the factories.

“The work is extremely difficult,” said one worker at a Samsung electronics plant making microwave ovens.

“You get only 45 minutes in a 12-hour shift to eat, and seven minutes every two hours to drink water.”

Other workers making parts and assembling products for Panasonic said that they stood all day without decent breaks. One worker claimed they were only allowed to stop work to go to the toilet twice in a 12-hour shift.

The electronics sector in Malaysia, which accounts for nearly 35% of the country’s export economy, has faced international scrutiny for its treatment of migrant workers. In 2014 a report by supply chain watchdog Verité found that nearly one third of workers in Malaysia’s electronics sector are in forced labour, and called for wide reforms of the policies of foreign companies operating there.

“Brands working in Malaysia have to recognise that the standard operating procedure for labour contractors is debt bondage and this has ramifications,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch in Asia.

“Taking someone from Nepal and putting them in a factory in Malaysia costs money, and if these costs are not being factored into the price of a phone, or a microwave or a speaker, then they are complicit in a system that expects the workers to suffer as a result.” - The Guardian, 21/11/2016



Immediately Release Siti Noor Aishah Atam from Restrictions Under Prevention Of Crime Act 1959 (POCA)

Media Statement – 20/12/2016
Immediately Release Siti Noor Aishah Atam from Restrictions Under Prevention Of Crime Act 1959 (POCA)
Abolish POCA and All Detention Without Trial Laws and  the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012
We, the 37 undersigned civil society organisations, trade unions  and groups, are appalled to hear about the case of  Siti Noor Aishah Atam, 29 year old Malaysian woman, who was arrested for the alleged possession of 12 books, detained, tried and acquitted by court, and thereafter re-arrested and detained under Prevention Of Crime Act 1959 (POCA). We are shocked that Siti Noor Aishah, despite being acquitted and released by Court, which also denied the prosecution’s application to continue to detain her under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012(SOSMA) pending appeal, was re-arrested and detained, and have now been imposed with Restriction Orders, which included being fitted with an electronic monitoring device (EMD). 
The case, one of the very few cases of victims  POCA which had gone to trial, for most victims of POCA and other detention without trial laws never get the opportunity to get a trial. There are now more than a thousand victims of POCA, POTA and other detention without trial laws, who have been or are now still detained without trial and/or subjected to Restriction Orders, without any opportunity to even challenge the alleged reasons for their Detention or Restrictions, a gross injustice is being done to them, as many of whom like Siti Noor Aishah Atam would more than likely be innocent. These victims have certainly never been proven guilty. As at Sept 30, 2015, 975 people have been detained under Poca(Malaysiakini, 29/11/2016)
Without the right to judicial review, including habeas corpus application, the risk and possibility that the innocent are all being now denied their liberty and rights is totally unacceptable. It is a denial of the fundamental human rights, including the right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal’ (Article 10, Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Article 11(1) of the UDHR also states that ‘Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
Siti Noor Aishah, who was arrested on 22/3/2016, have been a victim of SOSMA, and now continues to be a victim of POCA.
On March 22, 2016, Siti Noor Aishah , a University of Malaya Masters of Usuluddin (Islamic Studies) student, was arrested for allegedly having in her possession, books on Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda (AQ) at her residence at Lot 1241, Jalan Lapangan Terbang Sura, Dungun, Terengganu at 12.25pm, an offence the Penal Code.
On April 19,2016,  she was charged in the Magistrate Court in Kemaman, Trengganu under Section 130JB(1)(a) of the Penal Code which states that ‘whoever-  (a) has possession, custody or control of; or  (b) provides, displays, distributes or sells, any item associated with any terrorist group or the commission of a terrorist act shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years, or with fine, and shall also be liable to forfeiture of any such item.’ The case was then transferred to the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.
On July 25,2016, she pleaded not guilty and claimed trial at the High Court.
On 29/9/2016, Judicial Commissioner Datuk Mohamad Shariff Abu Samah, at the close of prosecution’s case, the judge acquitted and released her, without requiring Siti Noor Aishah to enter her defence as the court found that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against the accussed [‘… pihak  pendakwaan  telah  gagal  untuk  membuktikan suatu  kes  Prima  facie  terhadap  OKT…’ (extract from the Court Judgment)]
The Judge, amongst others, in his judgment said, ‘…Apalah ertinya     pemilikan     buku-buku tersebut yang   dikatakan mempunyai  kaitan  dan  unsur-unsur  pengganas  menjadi  suatu kesalahan  keatas  sesiapa  yang  memiliki  buku-buku  tersebut, walhal   pihak   Kementerian   Dalam   Negeri   gagal   menjalankan fungsi    sebenarnya    untuk    mengharamkan    dan    seterusnya menghapuskan buku-buku…’ (What is the meaning when possession of the said books said to have links and elements of terrorism is an offence against those found in possession of such books, when the Ministry of Home Affairs fails to even ban and thereafter destroy such books.)
It was also reported that the Court, after acquitting Siti Noor Aishah, also rejected the application of Deputy Public Prosecutor to continue to detain Siti Nor Aishah in prison pursuant to section 30(1) Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) whilst waiting for the appeal to be filed by the prosecution against the decision to acquit. (Bernama – Sinar Harian, 29/9/2016)
It was recently reported in the media (Malaysiakini, 29/11/2016), that Siti Nor Aishah was thereafter arrested and detained under the Prevention of Crime Act 1959(POCA) until Saturday(26/11/2016), and has now been fitted with an electronic monitoring device (EMD), and asked to report every Friday at the police station in Bukit Aman for 8 weeks. She is also most likely subjected to a Restriction Orders(or Police Supervision Orders) under POTA – which could include inhibitions with regard to movement, restrictions as to the people she can communicate with, and even restrictions with regard access to the internet and social media.
Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012(SOSMA)
This law provides for the uses of ‘special measures’ in security offences cases. After arrest, for the purpose of investigation, the police can normally hold a suspect for 24 hours, and if more time is required, the police need apply to a Magistrate for further remand in a hearing where the suspect can also be represented by a lawyer. The Magistrate will consider the reasons advanced and the submissions, and thereafter, if justified, may allow further remand for a specific number of days. If further remand is needed after that, the police will have to apply again to the Magistrate, and the maximum number of days of remand permitted is 14 days.
However, when the police resort to SOSMA, there is no more the need to apply to the Magistrate for further remand beyond 24 hours, and as such there is no more judicial intervention, which acts as a necessary check and balance to prevent abuse of detention powers by the police. SOSMA only requires the authority of a police officer of the rank of Superintendent or above, to be able to detain a suspect for up to 28 days. In Siti’s case, this provision of SOSMA was most likely used, as she was only brought to court to be charged on 19/4/2016, which is certainly more usual 14 days. SOSMA was also used recently in case of Human Rights Defender Maria Chin.
In the trial, it was also disclosed by the prosecutor in the Judgment, that SOSMA was also used for the purposes of investigation, and it was also used during the trial. SOSMA allows the use of evidence, which in normal trials would not be admissible by reason of  requirements in the Evidence Act and the Criminal Procedure Code. 
POCA is a Detention Without Trial law, like the former Internal Security Act(ISA), which allows for Administrative Detention and/or Restrictions to be imposed on a person. The Act also denies victims of POCA the ability to challenge the reasons and/or justification for the said Detentions/Restrictions/Police Supervision Orders in a court of law. The ousting of the Courts ability to review the reasons of the government for arresting, detaining and/or imposing restrictions only encourages abuse, and injustice against the innocent.
The use of POCA to detain, and now impose restrictions on rights and freedoms of Siti Nor Aishah, especially after the High Court had heard her case, and acquitted her is wrong.
Additionally, given the fact that the court denied the application by prosecution to continue to detain her until the appeal against her acquittal, we are of the opinion that the subsequent use of POCA to arrest and detain her may amount to contempt of court, and certainly a gross disrespect of the court.
The POCA amendments in 2014 and 2015 extended its usage was extended from just persons involved in triad gangs, to now also include persons allegedly involved in drug trafficking, trafficking of human persons, smuggling of migrants and even terrorism offences. It also covers crimes committed by 3 or more persons.
It must also be highlighted, that POCA clearly states that the detention under POCA ‘...shall be without prejudice to the taking of any criminal proceeding against that person, whether during or after the period of his detention...’ That means that a person detained on the basis of some allegation, can at a later date also find himself again being charged in court for a crime based on the same allegations.
POCA, the Prevention Of Terrorism Act 2015(POTA) and other laws that allows for detention/restrictions without trial  clearly violates human rights, and it must be abolished.
CALL for the immediate and unconditional release of Siti Noor Aishah Atam from any Detention or Restriction(Police Supervision) orders under Prevention Of Crime Act 1959(POCA) or any such Detention Without Trial laws;
CALL for the immediate and unconditional release of all persons currently being detained/restricted under Prevention Of Crime Act 1959(POCA) or any such Detention Without Trial laws;
CALL for the repeal of Prevention Of Crime Act 1959(POCA), Prevention Of Terrorism Act 2015(POTA)    any such Detention Without Trial laws;
CALL for the repeal of Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012(SOSMA)
Charles Hector
For and on behalf of the 37 undersigned civil society organisations, trade unions  and groups
AJAR Timor-Leste
Association of Domestic Home and Maquila Workers. ATRAHDOM- Guatemala
Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters- HRDP, Myanmar
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha(MASUM), India
Center for Prisoners' Rights, Japan
Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRA), Cambodia
Christian Development Alternative (CDA), Bangladesh 
Clean Clothes Campaign(CCC)
Community Development Centre (CDC)
Electronic Industry Employees Union (EIEU) Southern Region, Peninsular Malaysia
IDEAL (Institute for Development of Alternative Living)
Japan Innocence and Death Penalty Information Center
JERIT (Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas)
JKOASM (Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung)
Kesatuan Kebangsaan Anak Kapal Kabin Malaysia(NUFAM)/National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia
MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility
National Union of Transport Equipment & Allied Industries Workers (NUTEAIW), Malaysia
North South Initiative
Odhikar, Bangladesh
OHMSI (Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute), Malaysia
Pemuda Persatuan Hokkien Selangor & KL
Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor & KL (PRIHATIN) 
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
Philipping Alliance of Human Rights Advocates or PAHRA
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, India
PROHAM - Society for the Promotion of Human Rights, Malaysia
Pusat Komas
Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia(SABM)
SUARAM(Suara Rakyat Malaysia)
WH4C (Workers Hub For Change)
Women's Centre for Change, Penang (WCC)
Yayasan LINTAS NUSA Batam _ Indonesia
Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall's (KLSCAH) Civil Rights Committee