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Migrant workers face atrocious conditions in Malaysian electronics plants

24 January, 2013Migrant workers in the Malaysian electronics industry face atrocious conditions while making parts for brands such as Sony, Panasonic and Toshiba, according to new field research released 18 January 2103.

Employed as outsourced labour, the migrant workers are heavily indebted by the time they start working because of extortionate fees of recruitment agencies. Migrant workers are paid less, sometimes even only half of what they were promised, by the agencies that recruited them, and deductions are made from wages without proper explanation.

Workers undergo HIV testing as part of medical screening and women workers have to have mandatory pregnancy tests and are sent back home if they get pregnant. Contracts, if received at all, are often in a language not understood by the migrant workers, and migrants regularly work up to 72 hour per week. In addition, most workers interviewed had their passports held by the outsourcing agencies, to prevent them from leaving.

These atrocious working conditions, along with other violations were found by recent field research presented in the makeITfair-report ‘Outsourcing Labour’, which was released by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) on 18 January 2013.

Researchers in Malaysia interviewed over one hundred workers. The factories that were investigated provide parts for DVDs, cameras, and TVs, chips and remote controls to large brand names like Sony, Panasonic and Toshiba.

These companies take inadequate steps to protect migrant workers in their supply chain, the research shows.

The reseach found that labour rights violations are directly linked to the current outsourcing practices in Malaysia, where recruitment agencies increasingly act as direct employers, blurring employment relationships and obscuring responsibility for labour rights violations.

You can find a copy of the full report here:


This report is part of the ‘makeITfair’ project to raise awareness about sustainable development issues in the production chain of the consumer electronics industry. The partners behind the makeITfair project are also members of the wider Good Electronics international network, where IndustriALL is a member of the steering committee.