Sunday, June 20, 2010

Can refugees work? Can migrant children get education in Malaysia? The government answers

Still thinking - whether education for all, refugee can work?

In Malaysia, there were more than 2 million documented migrants, and, in my estimate, more that 5 million undocumented migrants, of which only about 200,000 at most may be asylum seekers and/or refugees. Whilst the majority of undocumented migrants are from neighbouring Indonesia, it is estimated that there are about 700,000 undocumented migrants from Burma.

Given this fact, one must be more concerned about these undocumented migrants, their children and families. What about their healthcare, education, etc...?

Of late, there has been talk that the Malaysian government is considering to allow asylum seekers/refugees to work in Malaysia whilst they await their departure to the 3rd country, and Member of Parliament for Seputeh asked some relevant questions and have gotten some answers. I have pasted the relevant posting from her blog, and have taken the liberty to do a rough translation of the question asked by her, and the answers from the Malaysian government. The rough translation is in bold red colour.

From my reading of the answers:-

* Malaysia does not recognize refugees - there are undocumented migrants.

* Malaysia has no specific laws for refugees - and as such asylum seekers/refugees are all dealt as document migrants or undocumented migrants under the Immigration Act - maybe besides asking for the ratification of the UN Convention, we could ask Malaysia to have a specific Malaysian law to govern asylum seekers/refugees and their families/dependents. The Malaysian government can have their own procedure and standards on conferring a person the status of asylum seeker (temporary or permanent), or even refugee status.

* Can refugees work? Well, the government is still studying the possibility

* Can children of refugees/undocumented migrants get education? No chance for formal education in government schools, etc BUT the government is ready to work with other in providing " alternative education" - very vague answer. 

The Foreign Ministry’s response to my Parliament question shows us how little the Government cares for the refugees in Malaysia. Not surprising that just three days ago, a report released by Amnesty said that Malaysia is a “dangerous” place for refugees who were often often abused, arrested and “treated like criminals”.

Once again, I urge the Ministry of Human Resource to give temporary work permits to the refugees in Malaysia. This will not only help them survive while they are being processed by UNHCR, but will also help ease Malaysia’s labour shortage which is ultimately to our own benefit. Enough of the “masih mengkaji” excuse!
Pertanyaan: Bagi Jawab Lisan [Question for an Oral Answer]
Daripada: YB Puan Teresa Kok Suh Sim [Seputeh]
Tarikh: 9 Jun 2010
Soalan: YB Puan Teresa Kok Suh Sim minta Menteri Luar Negeri Menyatakan bilakah kerajaan akan membenarkan orang pelarian negara asing di Malaysia untuk bekerja di Malaysia? Apakah langkah diambil oleh kerajaan untuk memberi pendidikan kepada golongan generasi kedua orang pelarian tersebut?
Member of Parliament Teresa Kok Suh Sim asks the Minister of Foreign Affairs to state when the government will allow foreign refugees in Malaysia to work in Malaysia? What are the steps taken by the government to provide education for the 2nmd generation of these refugees?
Tuan Yang Di Pertua,
Saya mengucapkan terima kasih kepada Yang Berhormat Seputeh ke atas soalan yang dikemukakan.

Tuan Yang Di Pertua,
2. (sic) Untuk makluman Dewan sekalian, Malaysia bukan merupakan negara pihak kepada Konvensyen Berkaitan Status Orang-Orang Pelarian 1951 dan Protokolnya 1967 (Convention Relation to the Status of Refugees 1951 and its Protocol 1967), yang menjadi asas bagi menentukan taraf pelarian bagi seseorang individu. Kerajaan berpendapat sekiranya Malaysia menjadi negara pihak Konvensyen tersebut, dan disoking oleh faktor kedudukan geografi Malaysia yang strategik di rantau Asia Tenggara, ianya akan menjadi faktor penrik kepada individu-individu datang ke Malaysia dan menuntut taraf sebagai orang pelarian, padahal, mereka sebenarnya datang ke Malaysia atas alasan mencari nafkah.
For the information of this House, Malaysia is not a party of the Convention Relation to the Status of Refugees 1951 and its 1967 Protocol, which forms the basis of determination of refugee status of an individual. The government, is of opinion, that if Malaysia becomes a party to that Convention, and considering the factor of Malaysia's geographical location that is strategic is South East Asia, it will certainly be a pull factor for individuals to come to Malaysia and claim refugee status, when in fact, they really come to Malaysia to earn a living.

3. Oleh kerana tidak ada undang-undang khas bagi orang pelarian di negara ini, isu orang pelarian adalah tertakluk di bawah Akta Imigresen 1959/63 (Pindaan 2002), di mana ke semua mereka dianggap sebagai Pendatang Asing Tanpa Izin (PATI).
Since there is no specific laws for refugees in this country, the refugee issue comes under the Immigration Act 1959/63 (Ammended 2002), whereby they are all considered Foreign Migrants Without Permission (PATI)
4. Memandangkan orang-orang pelarian ini dianggap sebagai Pendatang Tanpa Izin (PATI), dan dengan ketiadaan dokumen pengenalan diri yang sah, ini menyukarkan pendatang tanpa izin ini memasuki alam pekerjaan. Dokumen pengenalan diri yang dikeluarkan oleh pihak UNHCR tidak diiktiraf oleh pihak Kerajaan kerana Malaysia bukan merupakan negara pihak kepada Konvensyen Berkaitan Status Orang-Orang Pelarian 1951 dan Protokolnya 1967.
Considering the fact that these refugees are considered as Foreign Immigrants Without Permission (PATI), and in the absence of valid identification documents, it is difficult for these Foreign Migrants Without Permission (PATI) to enter into employment. Identification documents issued by the UNHCR is not recognized by the government since Malaysia is not a party to the Convention Regarding Status of Refugees 1951 and its 1967 Protocol.
5. Saya difahamkan bahawa Kementerian Sumber Manusia masih mengkaji dengan teliti cadangan membenarkan PATI yang mendaftar dengan pihak UNHCR di negara ini bekerja secara sah di Malaysia. Ini memandangkan terdapat beberapa isu perlu dikupas seperti pentapan sektor yang benar-benar sesuai dengan mereka yang berkenaan yang terdiri daripada pelbagai warganegara, agar tidak menjejaskan peluang untuk rakyat tempatan mendapatkan peluang pekerjaan.
I am given to understand that the Ministry of Human Resources is still studying thoroughly the proposal of allowing Foreign Migrants Without Permission(PATI) registered with the UNHCR to work legally in Malaysia. This is because there are several issues that have to be considered thoroughly such as the determination of the sectors that is truly suitable for them that come from various nationalities, so that it does not affect the opportunities of local citizens  from getting jobs.
6. Mengenai pendidikan untuk generasi kedua PATI yang mendaftar dengan pihak UNHCR pula, Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia tidak mempunyai dasar bagi memberi pendidikan formal kepada generasi kedua PATI yang telah mendaftar dengan pihak UNJCR memandangkan mereka tidak mempunyaiu dokumen pengenalan diri yang sah. Walau bagaimanapun, selaras dengan usaha memberi pendidikan untuk semua, Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia sentiasa bekerjasama dengan pelbagai agensi sama ada dalam kerajaan, pihak swasta dan badan-badan bukan kerajaan (NGOs) dalam menyediakan pendidikan alternatif kepada generasi kedua pendatang-pendatang yang berkenaan.
 On education for the second generation of Foreign Migrants Without Permission (PATI)which have been registered with the UNHCR, the Education Ministry have no policy for providing education for the 2nd generation of PATI registered with the UNHCR given the fact that do not have valid self identification documentation. However, in line with the effort to provide education for all, the Malaysian Education Ministry is always ready to cooperate with various agencies be they in government or not, the private sector and non-governments; organizations(NGOs) in providing alternative education to the 2nd generation of these migrants.
Sekian, terima kasih.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

无理开除争取员工权利外 劳 65组织联署谴责Maxter公司 [Maxter Glove Statement]

无理开除争取 员工权利外 劳 65组织联署谴责Maxter公司


It is hoped that we get more coverage in the media as this is a fundamental issue that concerns all workers in Malaysia. What use is rights enshrined in law, when the worker gets terminated/discriminated against the moment he takes steps to claim his rights using the proper channels as provided by law. There must be law protecting workers from termination, etc...when they exercise their labour rights.

When a worker makes unlawful deduction of wages, fail to pay overtime, etc and the worker complains - at the end of the day, if the worker is successful, what he gets is what his employer should have given the worker but did not. This is bad, as 'smart' employers will continue to cheat workers knowing always that even if the worker complains, what the employer has to fork out at the end of the day is only what he should have but did not pay. There should be a further large fine imposed on the employer by the State, and maybe also an additional award of damages of a significant sum that the employer should pay the worker. That would deter employers from cheating workers.

无理开除争取员 工权利外 劳

作者/本刊记者 Jun 11, 2010 04:41:32 pm
【本刊记者撰述】65个关注外 劳和工人权利的海内外组织团体,联署谴责Maxter手套制造私人有限公司无理开除争取员工权利的缅甸籍外劳,并呼吁政府修改宪法,保障员工利益。
这65个联署组 织包括国民醒觉运动(Aliran)、马来西亚职工总会(MTUC)、马来西亚人民之声(SUARAM)、马来西亚人民党(PRM)、雪兰莪自强协会 (EMPOWER)、雪兰莪及联邦直辖区社会协会(PERMAS)等。
他们在联署声明中所指,本地上市公司速伯玛(Supermax)旗下 位于雪兰莪州巴生的独资子公司Maxter手套制造私人有限公司(Maxter Glove Manufacturing Sdn Bhd),开除一名为了争取工人权利而勇于向劳工部投诉的缅甸籍外劳杜茂(Thu Maung)。
65个联署团体指出,在马来西亚,前往劳 工部投诉雇主不当对待和争取员工权利,是合理与合法程序,雇主不应该个别对待或甚至开除行使法律权利的员工,更不能够在员工权利受侵犯时,阻止抑或威胁员 工寻求法律途径解决问题。
Maxter手套制造私人有限公司是一家手套制造商,出口有粉乳胶检验手套、 无粉氯化乳胶手套、丁腈半浸手套(Nitrile gloves)和无菌手术手套。母公司速伯玛为主板上市公司,每年生产160亿片胶手套,去年税后盈利达1亿2600万元。

三 度投诉雇主剥削员工
(一) 从员工薪水中无理扣除雇主聘请外劳原需支付的征款。
(三)不合法保留两个月薪 水。
(六)要求员工超时工作(有时候一天内超过13小时),甚至包含公共假期 和休息日,同时没有依据法定费率支付超时和假日工作的薪水。
当天,他们两人亦曾向马来西亚人权委员会(SUHAKAM)投诉。过后在4月 12日,杜茂前往万挠劳工局作了详细投诉,而该劳工局因雇主地址位于巴生区,而把此事转交到巴生港口的劳工局处理。
据杜茂的说法,向梳邦再 也劳工局作出投诉大约一个月后,公司的代表们开始威胁个别员工,要他们说出谁到劳工局投诉,以及他们是否随行者。
联署组织谴责雇主威胁员工 的手法令人气愤,足以对员工造成恐慌和阻止他们索求自身员工权利。
在4月28日,杜茂的公司主管突然要杜茂交还员工证件,并叫他不需要再来 上班。
他 们表示,当员工是一名外劳,开除就意味取消工作签证,并要遣返回国,而这也意味他们无法到劳工局、劳工法庭、工业关系部门、工业法庭或民事法庭追讨他们的 权利,因为投诉者已经不在。

据悉,马来西亚采用于超过200万名外劳的现 有法律未经修改,无法保障索取本身权利的员工,是否受到不合理开除和遣返。
在《1967年工业关系法令》(Industrial Relations Act 1967)的第五条款言明,若员工有意组成、加入或鼓励其他员工加入职工会,雇主不能够偏袒、威胁、开除或不合理对待员工。
可 是,没有类似清楚说明的法律条款,保障透过劳工部或其他相关机构索求本身权利的员工。
“针对杜茂的事 件,我们要求他在没有任何利益损失的前提下马上获得复职。我们呼吁速伯玛执行主席兼集团董事经理郑金森,确保旗下子公司Maxter手套制造私人有限公 司,对待杜茂及其他与员工的错误行为能够告一段落。”
联署组织也要求,该公司支付员工之前不当扣除、无理保留及超时的薪水。同时,他们还呼 吁马来西亚政府进行所需的法律修改,避免雇主剥削员工,并保障员工可以索偿其权利。
“我们亦呼吁马来西亚政府,确保所有外劳可以继续合法留 在国内工作,直到他们在劳工部、劳工法庭、工业关系部门、工业法庭或民事法庭的案件和上诉获得处理。”

Friday, June 11, 2010


Media Statement – 11/6/2010

We, the undersigned 66 organizations, groups and networks, concerned about migrant and worker rights, are appalled at the treatment of workers at Maxter Glove Manufacturing Sdn Bhd (229862-H), at its factory at Lot 6070, Jalan Haji Abdul Manan, 6th Miles off Jalan Meru, Klang, Selangor, Malaysia.

We are appalled at the dismissal of Thu Maung, a Burmese migrant worker, who courageously lodged a complaint at the Labour Department to claim his rights as a worker. Claiming worker rights by lodging complaints against errant employers at the Labour Department is the proper and legally recognized procedure in Malaysia. It is very wrong for employers to discriminate against and/or terminate workers who are exercising their legal rights. It is also wrong for employers to discourage and/or threaten workers from seeking justice, when worker rights are being violated.

Maxter Glove Manufacturing Sdn Bhd is a subsidiary of Supermax Corporation Berhad. Maxter Glove Manufacturing Sdn Bhd is a gloves manufacturer that makes Latex Powdered Examination gloves, Clorinated & Polymer Coated Latex Powder Free gloves, Nitrile Gloves and Sterile surgical gloves which is also exported overseas. Supermax Corporation Berhad is an established company, that according to their 2009 Annual Report made an after-tax profit of about RM126 million.

On 23rd March 2010, Thu Maung and another Burmese migrant worker from Maxter Glove Manufacturing Sdn Bhd lodged a complaint at the Subang Jaya Labour Department. Their complaints, amongst others, was that the employer:-
a. had wrongfully deducted levy, that employers have to pay when they employ migrant workers, from the worker’s wages,
b. had unlawfully deducted the medical check-up fees of RM1000 from the worker’s wages,
c. had wrongfully withheld 2 months wages,
d. had failed to provide the migrant worker with accommodation,
e. had not been giving the workers one rest day per week,
f. had made the workers work overtime(sometimes up to 13 hours per day), and also on public holidays and rest days, and had thereafter failed to pay overtime wages and wages for working on rest days and/or public holidays at the statutorily stipulated rates.

On 23rd March, Thu Maung and another had also lodged a complaint at the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM).

On 12 April 2010, Thu Maung went again to the Labour Department in Rawang and gave a detailed complaint, whereby the Rawang Labour Department did record the complaint and forward the same to the Labour Department office in Port Klang, because they said that the Port Klang Labour Office, has the requisite jurisdiction since the employer, Maxter Glove Manufacturing Sdn Bhd, is in Klang.
According to Thu Maung, after about 1 month since the lodging of the complaint at the Subang Jaya Labour office, company’s representatives started intimidating workers individually by asking them who had complained to the Labour Department, and whether they were also going to complain to the Labour Department. This form of intimidation of workers is deplorable. This kind of actions by employers has the tendency of instilling fear and preventing workers from claiming their legally recognized labour rights.

On 28 April 2010, Thu Maung’s supervisor at the company, for no reason, suddenly asked him to return the worker’s pass and not to come back to work. Thu Maung was wrongfully terminated, and he verily believes that this was done just because he had complained to the Labour Department, and was perceived as the leader of the workers who wanted to claim their rights.

It is even worse when the worker is a migrant worker, for a termination will usually mean a cancellation of the work visa, and deportation back to their home country. This also would mean that they would not be able to even pursue their claims at the Labour Department, Labour Courts, Industrial Relations Department, Industrial Courts and/or Civil Courts as the physical presence of the complainant and/or litigant is necessary for the continuation of process of claiming rights.

The practice of terminating, cancellation of work visa and immediate deportation is a blatant disregard of the laws in Malaysia that exist to protect worker rights.

Work passes in Malaysia allow workers to work only for a specific employer – and hence a termination would leave the worker with no ability to work and earn a living legally in Malaysia, while he awaits the determination of the process that may give the worker justice. Cancellation of the work pass also makes his stay in Malaysia illegal, and he risk being arrested, detained and deported.

It is sad that the current laws and practices of Malaysia, which used to employ more than 2 million migrant workers have not been amended yet to ensure that workers who claim their rights are not wrongfully terminated and sent back.

Whilst there is a clear provision in the Industrial Relations Act 1967, that is section 5, which explicitly prohibits employers (or persons acting on behalf of employers) from discriminating, threatening, dismissing or acting negatively against workers who are interested in forming, joining, and/or encouraging other workers to join trade unions, there is no similar clear provision in law protecting workers who want to claim their worker rights through the Labour Departments and other available avenues. As an example, section 5(1)(c) and (d) of the Industrial Relations Act 1967is as follows:-
(1) No employer or trade union of employers, and no person action on behalf of an employer or such trade union shall -

…. (c) discriminate against any person in regard to employment, promotion, any condition of employment or working conditions on the ground that he is or is not a member or officer of a trade union;

(d) dismiss or threaten to dismiss a workman, injure or threaten to injure him in his employment or alter or threaten to alter his position to his prejudice by reason that the workman -
         (i) is or proposes to become, or seeks to persuade any other person to become,
a member or officer of a trade union; or
        (ii) participates in the promotion, formation or activities of a trade union; or…

There should be a similar clear provision in law that will prevent employers from harassing, threatening, discriminating and/or dismissing workers that claim their worker rights using existing avenues of complaints and remedies. The act of employers impeding, dismissing (or threathening to dismiss) workers who claim their worker rights should also be made an offence with a hefty fine. Workers should also receive a significant sum in exemplary damages, over and above their claim. Deterrence is needed to stop this unhealthy practice of employers violating worker rights, and preventing them access to justice.

In the case of Thu Maung, we call for the immediate reinstatement of Thu Maung without any loss of benefits.

We call on Dato' Seri Stanley Thai, Executive Chairman cum Group Managing Director of Supermax Corporation Berhad, to ensure that the wrong done by their subsidiary, Maxter Glove Manufacturing Sdn Bhd, to Thu Maung and other workers in the said company is ended, and that all workers are paid forthwith what has been wrongly deducted from their wages, monies that have wrongly been withheld returned, outstanding overtime payments, and that all legitimate claims are settled.

We call on the government of Malaysia to do the needful, including enacting laws that will deter employers in Malaysia from exploiting workers, and also protect workers that claim their worker rights from the negative acts of repercussion and/or ‘revenge’ by some bad employers.

We also call on the government of Malaysia to ensure that all migrant workers can continue to stay and work legally in Malaysia until their cases in the Labour Department, Labour Courts, Industrial Relations Department, Industrial Courts and/or Civil Courts, and appeals thereafter are completed.

Charles Hector
Pranom Somwong

For and on behalf of the following 66 organizations

ALIRAN, Malaysia
Alliance of Health Workers Philippines
Arakan League for Democracy (ALD-LA-MALAYSIA)
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
Asian Migrant Centre (AMC)
Asian Migrants Coordinating Body-Hong Kong (AMCB)
Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers in HK (ATKI-HK)
BOMSA, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Burma Campaign, Malaysia
Burma Partnership
Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (Vancouver, BC Canada)
Center for Japanese-Filipino Families
Clean Clothes Campaign -International Secretariat
Committee for Asian Women (CAW)
Communication Union of Australia (Vic Branch)
Empower, Chiang Mai
Filipino Migrant Center
Frank-Hubner-Scholl Resistance Movement of the White Rose
Free Burma Campaign Singapore (FBCSG)
Friends of Burma, Malaysia
IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh
Institute for National and Democratic Studies of Indonesia (INDIES)
Interfaith Cooperation Forum
KAFIN-Migrante (Saitama)
Kafin Migrant Center, Japan
Labour Behind the Label, United Kingdom
MADPET - Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture
Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC)
May 1st Coalition for Worker & Immigrant Rights, USA
Mekong Migration Network (MMN)
Migrante Aotearoa New Zealand
Migrante B.C. (Canada)
Migrante Denmark
Migrante Europe
Migrante International
Migrante-Middle East
Migrante Nagoya
Migrante Taiwan
Migrante UK.
Migranteng Ilonggo sa Taiwan
National League for Democracy [NLD (LA)], Malaysia
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR), U.S.
Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)
PAN Asia and the Pacific
Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
Persatuan Masyarakat Malaysia & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
Philippines Australia Union
Philippine Society in Japan
PINAY (Filipino Women's Organization in Quebec)
Pusat Komas
Rights Jessore, India
Shan Refugee Organization, Malaysia
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Malaysia
The Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
The Best Friend Library - Chiang Mai, Thailand
The Hong Kong Coalition for Free Burma Campaign
Think Centre Singapore
United Indonesians against Overcharging (PILAR)
United Filipinos in Hong Kong
Workers Hub for Change (WH4C)
YASANTI, Indonesia
ZOMI National Congress- Malaysia

Monday, June 7, 2010

World Cup Soccer Balls: EXPLOITATION STILL THE NORM - Take action

Make your voice be heard today to put pressure on FIFA. New research reveals that workers stitching soccer balls in Pakistan, India, China and Thailand continue to experience alarming labour rights violations.

Take action now  >>

Problems highlighted in the report are:[Download the report here >>]
  • child labour still exists in the Pakistani industry especially within home-based work.
  • gender discrimination of female home-based workers, being paid the least and facing the constant thread of losing their jobs due to pregnancy;
  • overtime working hours as in one Chinese factory, where workers were found to work up to 21 hours a day every day for an entire month;
  • the lack of proper drinking water or medical care facilities, and even toilets, as found in Indian stitching centres.
About 75% of the over 200 workers interviewed in Pakistan were not permanent workers and therefore didn’t have access to benefits and social security.

Over the past decade, regular reports of violations of human rights in soccer ball production have been presented to key players in the industry including global brands and FIFA.

The CCC is shocked that after all of these years, low wages and other labour rights violations are still the norm and not the exception in the industry. Please remind FIFA that they are responsible for their sport, and that as fans worldwide get excited about the games, the public expects the soccer ball industry to finally live up to its promises.

Send a letter to FIFA now!
Thanks for your support.
Take action now at:

Press release: World Cup Soccer Balls: EXPLOITATION STILL THE NORM
Monday, 07 June 2010 00:00
Report reveals Child Labour, Poverty Wages, Temporary Workers

As the frenzy grows over the upcoming FIFA World Cup in South Africa, there is a part of the World Cup that won’t be broadcast on TV.  The Play Fair Alliance today asked FIFA to respond to the report “Missed the Goal for Workers: the Reality of Soccer Ball Stitchers”, released by US-based NGO International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) on 7 June. The report reveals that workers stitching soccer balls in Pakistan, India, China and Thailand continue to experience alarming labour rights violations. The research found that child labour still exists in the Pakistani industry and is also occurring in India and China.

In the 13 years since the soccer ball industry signed the “Atlanta Agreement” committing to clean up the industry, regular reports of violations of human rights in soccer ball production have been brought to the attention of key actors in the industry including global brands and FIFA. Most recently, in 2008, the Play Fair Alliance, which consists of the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation (ITGLWF),  published research on China, India and Thailand, where workers reported wages below the legal minimum despite working 12-13 hours a day. Home-based workers in India reported piece rates as low as US$0.35 per ball, completing two to four balls a day.

It is shocking that after all of these years, low wages and other labour rights violations are still the norm and not the exception in the industry,” commented Ineke Zeldenrust from the Clean Clothes Campaign.  “As fans worldwide get excited about the games, the public expects FIFA and the soccer ball industry to finally live up to its promises.

The ITUC has invited FIFA today to discuss concrete measures that can be taken to clean up the industry.  It is a scandal that so many workers are subjected to appalling exploitation in an industry that generates so much wealth, and we are looking to FIFA to take the lead in ensuring a fair deal for these workers,” said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.

Other problems highlighted in the report are gender discrimination against female home-based workers, who are paid the least and face constant threat of losing their jobs due to pregnancy; overlong working hours as in one Chinese factory, where workers were found to work as many as 21 hours a day without a day off for an entire month; and lack of proper drinking water or medical care facilities, and even toilets, as found in Indian stitching centers.

These conditions are absolutely unacceptable” said Patrick Itschert, general secretary of the ITGLWF.  “FIFA must take concrete steps to ensure that the human rights of all those engaged in producing soccer balls are respected.

The Play Fair Alliance calls on FIFA and the soccer ball industry to take immediate action to address the issues of extremely low wages, proliferation of temporary workers, and a lack of civil society engagement in working to improve conditions for the very workers that produce the ball at the center of the World Cup 2010 games.

The Global Union for Construction Workers, the BWI, has also been in dialogue with FIFA, to enlist its support for better rights and conditions for workers building and renovating venues used international tournaments.

We have had to issue FIFA a yellow card on this, since workers building the stadiums where these tournaments are held are not getting a fair deal either,” said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson.

The report is available at:

Kristin Blom, International Trade Union Confederation, + 487 38 44 91
Ineke Zeldenrust, Clean Clothes Campaign/Play Fair Alliance +31-6-51280210
Trina Tocco, International Labor Rights Forum (USA), + 1 269 873 1000
Notes to the editor:

In April 2008, Play Fair 2008 issued the report, “Clearing the Hurdles: Steps to improving working conditions in the global sportswear industry”, revealing that violations of worker rights is still the sportswear industry norm and outlining steps to improve working conditions. Report at

Read the Play Fair Alliance letter to FIFA

The Play Fair Alliance 2008 consists of the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation (ITGLWF). Play Fair organisations have been campaigning since 2003 to commit Olympic organisations and the sportswear industry to take responsibility for ensuring workers’ rights in their supply chains. More at

A public appeal asking FIFA to clean up the soccer ball industry was released by CCC and can be accessed at: [coming soon]

More on the BWI campaign at:

International Labor Rights Forum is an advocacy organisation dedicated to achieving just and humane treatment for workers worldwide. ILRF works to stop child labour, promote and protect the rights of working women, end sweatshop labour, and to end violence against trade unions. ILRF has worked on labour-rights issues and specifically the prevalence of child labour in the soccer ball industry since 1996.  More at

Missed the Goal for Workers: the Reality of Soccer Ball Stitchers in Pakistan, India, China and Thailand
Monday, 07 June 2010 15:52
June 7, 2010, by International Labor Rights Forum

This report presents the key findings of the International Labor Rights Forum’s research in the four largest soccer balls producing countries: Pakistan, India, China and Thailand. This report also highlights the current missteps of typical corporate social responsibility initiatives such as fair trade certification and factory monitoring where wages and temporary work must be transformed in order for labour rights to be realized by the many soccer ball production workers.

The report find that labour abusive practice across the soccer ball industry in Pakistan, India, China and Thailand includes the predominant use of precarious labour in the hand-stitched soccer ball industry, wage violation, health and safety violation, and lack of respect for freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively.

Finally, the problems identified and analysed in this report were not new. ILRF thinks that the way in which the soccer ball industry is constructed, the unequal relationship between buyers and suppliers, and other factors have often negated even the best efforts to fix the endemic problems that continue to plague this industry. Also, ILRF firmly believes that further research and dialogue among various stakeholders is absolutely crucial in order to have a real impact on the labour rights violation across the soccer ball industry.
Download the report here >>

Saturday, June 5, 2010

'Riot' at Ajil Detention Centre for Undocumented Migrants - Independent Inquiry/Investigation Needed

Why it the cause of this 'trouble' at yet another of Malaysia's Detention Centre for undocumented migrants? (Just last July, we remember that was some 'trouble' at another detention centre - the Semenyih Detention Centre)

Were the detainees protesting inadequate healthcare, poor food & living conditions,....? 
Were they protesting torture by camp authorities?

The newspaper report labels it a 'riot' - but this is most likely based on information obtained from the camp authorities. What do the detained migrants say? [Israel said that they used violence and killed persons in that humanitarian flotilla because they were really 'terrorists' with arms who attacked the Israeli soldiers, and that the soldiers opened fire in defence. Later, we hear from the victims a totally different story.)

Likewise, we need to have an independent get to the truth. Media should also be trying to get information from the undocumented migrants (and maybe even some asylum seekers, refugees and documented persons who are being detained there). Maybe even, some Malaysians... [see earlier posts:-Pregnant Malaysian mum wrongfully detained in Migrant Detention Centre for 11+ months ,

Hopefully, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) has already visited this Detention Centre, and commenced their own investigation. Or is SUHAKAM waiting for a formal complaint? There must be no cover-up, and the real reason for the said 'riot'/protest must be disclosed to the public

KUALA BERANG: Some 200 illegal immigrants from Vietnam and Myanmar went on a riot at the Ajil detention camp late last night.

It is believed that the immigrants had tried to torch the main administration building at the camp at around 9.15pm, sparking a melee.

It is also learnt that several of the immigrants were also injured during the incident and had been warded at the Hulu Terengganu Hospital.

Smoke from the detention camp could be seen some distance away from the town.

Several teams of Federal Reserve Unit personnel in anti-riot gear were also rushed to the scene to quell the riot from their headquarters in Kuala Terengganu.

Three fire engines from the Hulu Terengganu and Kuala Terengganu Fire and Rescue Department also rushed to the scene and managed to bring the fire under control in 10 minutes.

Ambulances were also seen entering the premise and ferrying out the injured. The detainees were believed to have used newspaper and other combustible materials to set the camp on fire.

It is not known however if the authorities had used tear gas to quell the riots but at press time, the area was still being condorned off and the police were still manning roadblocks on the road leading towards the camp.

As at press time, no reason had been given for the riot and police officers were seen at the site still negotiating with the group inside.

Stall owners near the detention centre had also been advised by Immigration authorities to immediately clear the area for fear of the riot spilling over onto the streets.

In 2005, 131 Thai Muslims who were seeking temporary shelter from unrest in Southern Thailand were housed in Ajil camp.

While on July 1 last year, 700 Myanmar illegals had caused a ruckus at Semenyih camp.- Star, 6/6/2010, 200 illegal immigrants stage riot at Ajil detention camp
In the last 'riot' in July 2009, the riot started allegedly when the camp authorities started beating some of detainees... 

Eight Burmese detainees were wounded after a small riot broke out at the Semenyih Immigration camp near Kajang Township, in Malaysia on Wednesday.

Speaking clandestinely to The Irrawaddy on Thursday, one of the detainees involved in the riot at the camp said the trouble started at 8pm after camp authorities beat 30 detainees who were refusing to board a truck that was to take them to another camp.

The detainees began breaking up the walls of their rooms and throwing plates at security officers, demanding prison authorities release the 30 people who had been loaded onto the truck.

The police used tear gas to break up the riot.

“We are very angry after we heard they had beaten and forced fellow prisoners to get on a truck and be moved another camp. When they came for them they said it was only to meet officials from the UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees],” he said.

The detainee was in hiding as he talked to The Irrawaddy by phone from the camp. Camp authorities ban the use of mobile phones.

“On Tuesday, two Burmese detainees were also seriously beaten when they went to the clinic to ask for medicine. One detainee was beaten around the eyes,” the detainee said.

“We don’t know if he will regain his vision because his eyes are filled with blood. At the moment he can’t see,” he said. “The other detainee suffered cigarette burns on his body and is in serious condition now.”

Yante Ismail, a spokesperson for the UNHCR based in Kuala Lumpur told The Irrawaddy, Thursday, that a group from UNHCR left for the camp that morning to investigate the riot.

She said that she was unable to provide any further details on what happened at the camp.
The Malaysian National News Agency announced on their Bernama website that no one was injured during the riot and that the situation was under control.

According to Burmese rights groups in Malaysia, there are about 700 Burmese detainees at the Semenyih Immigration camp. They are accusing camp authorities of keeping people who have already served sentences in detention.

Roi Mon, a member of the Mon Refugees Organization based in Malaysia, said that inmates do not have enough food and water, and the camp is crowded because the authorities have refused to release detainees.

Meanwhile, in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 released in June, the US State Department put Malaysia back on the Tier 3 blacklist for its record of abuse and exploitation of migrant workers. Malaysia joins 16 other countries including Burma, North Korea, Sudan and Zimbabwe on the blacklist.

The report accused Malaysia authorities of deporting Burmese detainees to the Thai-Malaysia border and selling them to human traffickers, who then demanded ransoms for their release.

If payments were not made, the victims would be forced to work as slave labor on fishing boats in Thailand and Indonesia, and women could be forced to work as prostitutes in brothels.

Malaysian authorities have disputed the report’s conclusions.

According to the Kuala Lumpur-based Burma Workers’ Rights Protection Committee, about 500,000 Burmese migrants work in Malaysia, legally and illegally. - Irrawady, 2/7/2009, Burmese Injured in Malaysian Camp Riots
The relocation of Burmese refugees in Malaysia could lead to worse human rights abuses as they would be isolated from outside world, rights advocacy groups in Malaysia said. 

According to the rights groups, the Malaysia immigration authorities moved 598 Burmese refugees including women and children who were detained at Semenyih Immigration camp near Malaysia’s Kajang Township on Friday.

The move was likely due to the Malaysia authorities wanting to isolate the refugees from the outside world, while other sources said it was due to the riot between Burmese refugees and Malaysia camp authorities on July 1. 

The riot broke out after camp authorities beat 30 detainees who were refusing to board a truck that was to take them to another camp. Eight Burmese detainees were wounded in the riot.    

Aung Naing Thu, general secretary of the Malaysia-based rights advocacy group known as the Burma Youth of Nationalists Association said, “Now the Burmese refugees have been relocated to other places, they will be isolated, and the authorities will be able to do whatever the want, even torture them.”   

Forty-eight out of more then 600 Burmese refugees who were detained in Semenyih detention camp were released on Monday, but 598 of them remained. Many of the remaining refugees are undocumented, said rights groups.

The released detainees said there had been many human rights abuses while they were in the camp. Months-old children and women and pregnant women were the most vulnerable, as the meals distributed in the detention camp lack nutrition, they said.        

Thant Zin, a Burmese refugee who was released on Monday, said that only ten sick people are allowed to receive medical treatment per week.

“Many people who feel sick in the camp go without medical treatment. They are not allowed to see doctors,” said Thant Zin.    

The drinking water and the water used in the toilet come from the same source,” he added.

“If they find communication materials such as mobile phones, they brutally beat you,” said Thant Zin.

Immigration authorities regularly beat the detained Burmese refugees during inspections. Last week, two Burmese detainees were seriously beaten when they went to the clinic to ask for medicine.

One detainee was beaten around the eyes till they filled with blood and he became unable to see. The other detainee suffered from cigarette burns on his body and was said to be in serious condition.

A delegation from the United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees in Malaysia is now investigating the riot, according to Yante Ismail, a spokesperson for the UNHCR, in Kuala Lumpur.  

There are 22 detention camps in Malaysia, some of which are located in isolated areas on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. Some refugees have spent years in the detention camps. 

About 500,000 Burmese migrants work in Malaysia, legally and illegally, according to the Kuala Lumpur-based Burma Workers’ Rights Protection Committee.- Irrawady, 11/7/2009, Burmese Detainees in Danger,