NILAI: The labour department raided illegal premises in Bandar Baru Nilai here and rescued 226 foreign workers living in wretched conditions today.
Human resources minister V Sivakumar said the employers had failed to adhere to the Minimum Standards of Housing, Accommodation and Employee Facilities Act 1990 (Act 446).
He said the workers comprised Bangladesh and Nepal foreign nationals in their 20s to 40s.
They had entered the country through the foreign workers’ quota approved for three cleaning companies and a manufacturing company, he added.
Sivakumar said they were placed temporarily at the transit accommodation premises about 40 days ago and some of them had not yet found work as promised.
“We inspected the transit home and it was very disappointing to see the workers living under such conditions.
“They were clueless as to what was happening and were very worried about their future.
“Some were even shedding tears. From their distraught faces, it was clear they were emotionally disturbed.
“We noticed there were three levels, with each floor of 1,800 square feet accommodating over 60 individuals.
“This is a violation of the law and is dangerous. If there happens to be a fire and so on, what would be their fate?” he said after the raid.
Sivakumar warned employers that the ministry would not compromise in such matters and reminded them to provide suitable and decent accommodation.
He said the companies must ensure there are job openings for foreign workers before they are brought into the country.
Following the raid, Sivakumar said four investigation papers were opened in accordance with Section 24D of Act 446 against the four employers involved in the case.
He said all of the foreigners would also be moved immediately today to more conducive premises located about 30km away to ensure their welfare and safety.
“In addition, we will also find them new employers who are really in need of workers,” he said, adding that the raid was carried out after the ministry received a tip-off from the Bangladesh high commission.
Meanwhile, checks by newsmen found that the foreigners were made to sleep on bunk beds and old mattresses, with only two to three industrial fans in sight.
The area was also poorly lit and not well-ventilated.