Nearly one in three migrant workers in Malaysia’s thriving electronics industry toils under forced labor conditions, essentially trapped in the job, a factory monitoring group found in a report issued on Wednesday.
The monitoring group, Verité — which conducted a two-year investigation commissioned by the United States Department of Labor — found that 32 percent of the industry’s nearly 200,000 migrant workers were employed in forced situations because their passports had been taken away or because they were straining to pay back illegally high recruitment fees.
The report said those practices were prevalent among the migrants from Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Vietnam and other countries who work in Malaysia’s nearly 200 electronics factories. Those factories, which produce consumer electronics, motherboards, computer peripherals and other electronic goods, account for a third of Malaysia’s exports and produce for many well-known companies, including Apple, Flextronics, Samsung and Sony.
The Verité report said that 92 percent of the migrant workers in Malaysia’s electronics industry had paid recruitment fees and that 92 percent of that group had paid fees that exceeded legal or industry standards, defined as more than one month’s wages.