Exploitation of Vietnamese Workers in Malaysia


BPSOS Decries Exploitation and Mistreatment of Vietnamese Workers in Malaysia by Hong Kong-based Clothing Giant

BPSOS, a national Vietnamese-American organization with a long history combating human trafficking, today launches a coordinated campaign to seek redress for some 1,300 Vietnamese workers mistreated by Esquel Malaysia, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Esquel Enterprise Ltd, one of the world’s largest clothing manufacturers with half a billion US dollars in annual sales.

“Based on evidence we have collected so far, there are many indications that Esquel has grossly violated Malaysia’s newly passed Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law (Act 670),” says Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, Executive Director of BPSOS. For the past two years he has closely monitored the conditions of some 130,000 Vietnamese workers in Malaysia.

In 2007 Esquel Malaysia, based in Penang and formerly known as The Eastern Garment MFG. Co., hired some 1,300 Vietnamese contract workers. Its three-year contracts offered training and guaranteed a minimum pay equivalent to $245 per month. As soon as the workers arrived in Malaysia, the employer confiscated their personal documents and forced them to work at much lower wages. BPSOS has documented fortnightly pay as low as RM 8.90, or less than three US dollars. Many of the workers could not afford food and survived on rice donated by Malaysian good Samaritans.

Workers who questioned Esquel Malaysia’s breach of contract were abducted in the dead of the night, detained at the company’s compound, and within hours repatriated to Vietnam. So far over 300 workers have been unlawfully dismissed and repatriated. Many of these workers now face huge debts back home—money borrowed from loan sharks in order to pay the service fees required by recruitment agencies. Those remaining in Malaysia live in constant fear.

A pro bono lawyer in Penang has lodged complaints with the Industrial Relations Department against Esquel Malaysia for unlawful dismissal.

“We aim to mobilize consumers, the media, and governments to put pressure on Esquel. Our goal is to ensure that Esquel honors its contracts, fully compensates the workers for financial and emotional damages, and rehires those that have been unfairly dismissed,” Dr. Thang explains.

Esquel employs some 43,000 workers at 16 factories in eight countries including Malaysia, China, Vietnam, The Philippines, Maldives, Mauritius and Sri Lanka, producing 64 million shirts a year for brand-name customers such as Abercrombie & Fitch, JCPenney, Aeon, Konaka, Aoyama, Lacoste, Banana Republic, Marks & Spencer, Brooks Brothers, Muji, Burberry, Nautica, Cortefiel, Next, Daidoh, Nike, Esprit, Nordstrom, Gant, Polo, Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, Right On, Ito-Yokado, Ted Baker, J.Crew, and Tommy Hilfiger. Esquel has two US-based Esquel subsidiaries in New York and Seattle.


One Response

  1. you should always be careful with recruitment agencies because some of them are just scammers :~:

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