PUTRAJAYA: Human resources minister Steven Sim said 751 Bangladeshi migrant workers duped into coming to Pengerang, Johor, for jobs that did not exist have filed a RM2.21 million claim for unpaid wages from their employers.
Sim said their case will be heard at the Pengerang district labour office on Feb 5 as the workers may not be able to afford to travel to Kuala Lumpur.
It is understood that 171 of the 751 workers were arrested by police in Pengerang last month after taking part in a march to file a police report
“Employers who don’t pay their workers by claiming there is no work to be done… For us, this is a big wrongdoing,” said Sim during a press conference here.
“They deserve to be paid.”
He added that the Johor labour department has opened 13 probes into the workers’ five employers, with the deputy public prosecutor set to check the investigation papers tomorrow.
Sim today revealed that the workers arrested by the police last month have been “freed”, but he did not provide more information on the matter.
Sim and home minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail previously said their ministries viewed the case in Pengerang seriously and would not compromise with any party involved in foreign worker exploitation.
They agreed that the employers must face legal action under several laws, including those against human trafficking.
They also said the employers would be blacklisted from applying for new foreign workers and their remaining migrant worker quotas and approval letters would be cancelled.
They would also be prevented from renewing work permits for existing foreign workers.
At today’s press conference with Saifuddin, Sim stressed that the country’s position on foreign workers is “very clear”.
“Foreign workers are here to help support Malaysian businesses… Not to be seen as a business itself,” he said.
He added that the two ministries had agreed on new standard operating procedures (SOPs) in which immediate action would be taken against employers found to have committed “any wrongdoing” against their workers.
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