171 Bangladeshi workers freed; claim for RM2.2mil filed with employers

PUTRAJAYA: A total of 751 Bangladeshi workers who were duped into coming to Pengerang, Johor for non-existent jobs have filed a RM2.21 million claim for unpaid wages from their employers.

Human Resources minister Steven Sim said the case will be heard on Feb 5 at the Pengerang district labour office as the workers may not be able to afford to travel to Kuala Lumpur.

"Employers who don't pay their workers by claiming there is no work has been done despite bringing them here, For us, this is a big wrongdoing," said Sim during joint press conference with the Home Ministry, here, today.

He added that the Johor labour department has opened 13 probes into the workers' five employers, with the deputy public prosecutor set to check the investigation papers tomorrow.

Earlier it was reported that 171 workers were arrested by police in Pengerang, Johor, last month while marching to file a police report.

Sim today revealed that the workers had been freed, but he did not provide more information on the matter.

Earlier this month, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and Sim announced that the company responsible for bringing in the Bangladeshi workers had been blacklisted, its remaining quotas revoked, and will face legal actions under relevant laws.

Today, the two ministries had agreed on new standard operating procedures (SOPs) in which immediate action would be taken against any employer found to have committed "any wrongdoing" against their workers.

This will include blacklisting the company, revoke their remaining quotas and initiating legal action under several laws, including those against human trafficking.

Sim said the country's position on foreign workers is very clear and that they are supposed to help businesses.

Earlier, the two ministries had outlined seven actions, including legal measures under the Immigration Act 1959/63, Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007, Employment Act 1955, and the Minimum Standards of Housing, Accommodation and Employee Facilities Act 1990.

They also announced plans for inspections on employers to ensure that the welfare of foreign workers is maintained.

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