PETALING JAYA: The UK-based supermarket chain Tesco has reported finding instances of abuse against migrant workers in its Malaysian operations.
In this year’s edition of its annual report on modern slavery, Tesco said that interviews with 168 of its migrant workers in Malaysia uncovered various allegations.
These included retention of passports, unexplained and illegal wage reductions, heavy indebtedness to labour brokers in their home country, and excessive overtime. The passports of 68 Indonesian and 171 Nepali workers were found to have been withheld.
FMT is seeking comments from Tesco Malaysia.
The UK report said that all passports were returned to workers and new policies and procedures introduced for when passports are required for work permit renewal or other government purposes.
Tesco said that it would undertake detailed investigations of specific allegations, set up support lines for agency workers in their home languages and guidelines to ensure workers have access to passports whenever needed.
The company also said it will review and improve accommodation and worker welfare audits, provide full remediation, including the repayment of recruitment fees, and shift to recruit migrant workers directly as a preference.
Tesco Malaysia, established in 2002, is a joint venture with Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby Berhad, which owned a 30% stake.
Last month, Sime Darby sold its stake for RM300 million, as part of a deal where Tesco’s Malaysian and Thai operations were sold to Thailand’s CP Retail Development Company Ltd at an enterprise value reported to be US$10 billion.
Tesco Malaysia currently employs over 7,000 employees across 60 stores and two distribution centres in Peninsular Malaysia.
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