Foreign Workers Exploited in Malaysia: Victims can now seek justice
From now on, undocumented expatriate workers in Malaysia will be able to seek justice for any sort of exploitation by their employers or agents.
The Malaysian High Court issued the ruling on July 29, clearing way for the migrant workers without an official work permit to seek redress in the labour court against various labour rights violations, including exploitation, wage theft and non-payment of wages, reported New Straits Times, a Malaysian newspaper.
Malaysian HC Judge Hajjah Azizah Nawawi came up with the ruling while delivering verdict on a case filed by an Indonesian worker Nona (not her real name) in 2017.
Nona filed the case against her employer with Port Klang Labour office, claiming that her employer swindled her of about 30,000 Malaysian Ringgit (US$7,300) in four and half years as she did not have any valid documents to work in the country.
Justice Nawawi ordered that the case be remitted back to the labour court for a full hearing of the merits of Nona’s claim.
Glorene Das, executive director of Tenaganita, said the decision would provide a legal avenue to seek justice for the exploitation of undocumented migrant workers.
“It is a well-known fact that the vast majority of undocumented migrant workers in Malaysia fall into the category of irregular migrants. In fact, they usually become the victim of the scams by labour agents, often aided and abetted by corrupt officials,” said Glorene Das.
Hence, denying the workers their just wages are tantamount to rubbing salt into their wound, she told The Daily Star in an email.
Some two lakh of the total eight lakh Bangladeshis working in Malaysia are estimated to be undocumented.
Ismail Sagar, a Bangladeshi working in Selangar state of Malaysia, said there were thousands of examples where undocumented workers had been denied wages.
There was no scope to file any complaints to any authority, he added.
“If the new ruling can be implemented, this will be a great help for the undocumented migrants who are often deprived of justice,” he told The Daily Star by phone yesterday.
However, Ismail said undocumented migrants usually avoid going public places fearing police detention.
“If Bangladesh high commission in Malaysia helps such undocumented workers, it would be easier for them to seek justice,” he also said.