WRP Asia admits hiring 1,178 irregular migrant workers
DOT Desk: The management of glove maker WRP Asia Pacific through its lawyers on Sunday revealed that among its staff included 1,178 migrant workers whose permits were in the name of liquidated companies affiliated to a former company board member, according to Malaysikini report, reports New Age.
Despite the workers’ irregular status, lawyers acting on behalf of the current management confirmed that all claims for outstanding wages will be fully paid by next week.
‘With this quick action to start making payments to the workers, we are walking the talk on reviving WRP…This includes settling the outstanding salaries due to over 1,178 foreign workers who had been irregularly employed (by WRP),’ said Mathew Thomas Philip, founder and manager of Thomas Philip Advocates and Solicitors, in a statement on Sunday.
The workers were originally employed by two companies and their permits remained in the name of the two liquidated companies, resulting in their current limbo and irregular employment status with WRP Asia.
Contrary to its statement, Malaysiakini understands that an independent audit commissioned by WRP Asia last year recorded 1,603 migrant workers in its employment.
From the figure, Bangladesh and Nepali citizens make up 75 percent of the workers at WRP, according to a copy of the audit report sighted by Malaysiakini.
The audit report also stated that 1,066 of the workers were supplied to WRP Asia by two contractors, which sources said, were the same liquidated companies referred to in the lawyer’s statement.
International migrant worker rights campaigner Andy Hall, who monitors developments in WRP Asia, told New Age that WRP Asia’s 49 per cent work force were workers from Bangladesh.
‘Now the question is how the authorities had allowed this irregularity to happen? he asked.
‘The government as well as the auditors were aware about it,’ he said.
‘These workers were at high risk of forced labour,’ he added.
In October last year, the US Customs and Borders banned exports by WRP Asia Pacific to the United States over suspicion that the company was using forced labour.
Malaysia Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran previously said the ministry was closely monitoring developments in WRP Asia to ensure compliance with all requirements under the employment laws.