2023 April 21

Strengthening our Monitoring in Malaysia

Electronics Watch carried out a mission to Malaysia in February 2023. The trip focused on building stronger linkages with monitoring partners on the ground, and meeting workers and trade unions at the facilities we monitor.

Electronics Watch staff met with colleagues who are talking to migrant workers in Klang Valley and Melaka. We got a first-hand account of the challenges and solutions to getting access to workers, and gaining their trust.

Speaking with trade union representatives, we learned that Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and chemicals were a concern for the health and wellbeing of workers. Some workers told us that they were not being given proper training on safe handling of chemicals and did not know the hazardous impact of the chemicals.

In Penang, Electronics Watch visited the office of the Electronics Industry Employees Union (EIEU) Northern Region. We had an exchange with the trade union leaders on the key issues impacting workers. Linking our monitoring partners to trade union representatives in this way helps us to connect with workers in Penang and the areas around it.

Finally, Electronics Watch and Tenaganita met with migrant workers who were employed in an electronics factory. Through an in-depth interview which lasted more than four hours, the workers shared detailed accounts of the recruitment practices they had experienced. They were hired from Nepal and sent to Malaysia to work. They described the fees and related costs workers had to pay for a job in Malaysia. We were told about workplace violations such as threats and intimidation to workers who spoke out about their situation. Electronics Watch witnessed workers getting an alert from other workers that the recruiters were threatening to terminate them and many of their colleagues. The threat was retaliation for their having reported paying exorbitant recruitment fees and related costs to get their jobs. Electronics Watch is working to ensure these workers get remedy.

This trip was a vital one for our monitoring work in Malaysia, building stronger partnerships on the ground and connecting with our monitoring partners. Workers and trade unions are at the core of our monitoring of public buyer supply chains. Our goal is to remain accessible, connect directly with workers and independent trade unions and empower them to bring change to their lives with our joint monitoring and remediation work.