Malaysia has agreed to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Protocol 29 – the protocol linked to the Forced Labour Convention, to show the government’s commitment to stop forced labour.
The news comes as no surprise, given that Kuala Lumpur has faced repeated claims of serious labour abuses this year, including forced labour, by companies in the glove-making sector and others.
These have led to products made by Malaysian manufacturers that employ thousands of migrant workers from countries such as Nepal and Bangladesh blocked by customs officials after arriving at ports in the US and Canada amid claims of forced labour.
This happened to a Malaysian glove making firm in early October. And recently, US government investigators interviewed workers at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co’s Malaysian factory about their working conditions.
National Action Plan
Human Resources Minister, M Saravanan, said: “Malaysia is committed to accelerate efforts and work in unison with the international community to eradicate forced labour.
“To ensure that these initiatives are carried out in a structured manner, the National Action Plan on Forced Labour (NAPFL) 2021-2025 is developed,” he said during the launching of the NAPFL 2021-2025 in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
The ILO estimated in 2017 that up to 24.9 million people were victims of forced labour globally, and said that the Asia Pacific region had the highest prevalence (four workers out of every 1,000 people).
The minister conceded that Malaysia has had problems in this area, with the country in lowest level (Tier 3) of the State Department’s 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report, plus companies facing export sanctions in the US and Canada.
“As a trading nation, and as a country that firmly upholds the principle that human suffering should not be tolerated or compromised, particularly involving the welfare of workers, the government has taken various initiatives,” he was quoted as saying by Bernama.
• Jim Pollard
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