The migrants come for work, but endure forced labour

The migrant workers in Malaysia are subjected to conditions of harsh labour , as the migrants are made to live in misery. The International Labour Organisation by conducting a survey reported the findings.

About a third of migrant workers are employed as domestic help in Malaysia and undergo conditions of forced labour, as per a survey released on Thursday by the International Labour Organisation or the ILO, the labour agency of United Nations.

The survey took note of conditions such as extended hours of working, unpaid work, low wages, restrictions on movement and not being able to quit the work, as discerning features of forced labour.

For the survey, 1201 interviews were conducted in which domestic workers from South Asia took part, as a result 29 percent workers in Malaysia had miserable conditions of working, when compared to 7 percent and 4 percent in Singapore and Thailand respectively.

What the three countries had to say on the conditions of forced labour endured by migrants

Malaysia has not responded to the survey as of yet.

The spokesperson for Thailand’s labour ministry, Wannarat Srisuksai responded that the conditions of domestic workers in the country have been ameliorated since the introduction of laws in 2012 to protect them.

According to Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower, the majority of migrants who were domestic workers were content with their jobs and their life in Singapore with the benefit of payments of their salary on time, ample time for themselves, suitable accommodations and fooding facilities and medical check-ups on a regular basis.

Anna Engblom, chief technical advisor at ILO, who was in charge of this project stated “Domestic work is one of the most important tasks in our society, and yet provided with the least protection. This can no longer be accepted”.

The three countries were asked to abide by the UN accord on forced labour

The ILO asked for the countries to act in accordance with the UN conventions, on domestic workers and forced labour, to take into account skilled nature of domestic work and ensure migrant routes that don’t bind workers to the employers.

The status of migrant labourers in Asia

Image Source: Saeed Khan/AFP/Southeast Asia Globe

In Asia, households most of the time employ domestic help, majorly women from developing countries such as Indonesia, Myanmar and Phillipines to look after household chores such as cooking, cleaning, taking care of children gardening and so on.

Malysia has faced flak in recent years owing to several episodes of Indonesian domestic workers being ill-treated in the households and several of the companies there have been accused of exploiting the migrant labourers.

Indonesians constitute 80 percent of domestic workers in Malaysia, going by the ILO.

“We are humans, we deserve to be treated like human beings”, says Liezl Galdo, a migrant and domestic worker from the Phillipines in Malaysia. She was not allowed to attend her father’s funeral by her former employer as she briefed on Thursday.

“Things have not really changed over the years – we still hear about domestic workers locked in their homes or without access to mobile phones for years… sometimes their families at home think maybe they have died already because there is no communication”, she further said.

Just like the Indonesians, the Cambodian migrant workers in Malaysia underwent conditions of forced labour. One of the possibilities of this was thought of as the irregularity of the status of their work which increased their risk of exploitation.

Measures are being taken to abolish forced labour in Malaysia

Image Source: MalayMail

The report from the ILO asked for providing a minimum wage, regular working hours and benefit of social protection systems which people in the organised sector are entitled to.

According to the Human Resources Minister of Malaysia V. Sivakumar, that the Labour Department’s role would be made robust and labour inpsectors would be put in place to look after the well-being of the workers and would take action against employers who imposed forced labour.

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