Human Resources Minister M Saravanan has dismissed glove maker Brightway Holdings’ denial surrounding a raid at one of its subsidiaries yesterday that uncovered hundreds of workers living in squalid conditions.
When contacted, Saravanan, who took part in a multi-agency raid at a Brightside subsidiary in Kajang, said it is common for any employer to issue a denial when faced with allegations of modern slavery.
“Let them say what they want to say. We have enough evidence to enforce the rule of law.
“It is normal for an employer to deny. That will (only) force us to publish more pictures of the condition. Anyway, we had enough media during the visit,” he added.
The raid uncovered 781 workers living behind the factory in two blocks of shipping containers stacked three-stories-high and Saravanan reportedly said it was one of the worse living conditions he had ever seen.
It is understood the workers comprise 759 migrants and 22 locals.
“I call this ‘modern slavery’. I’m very sad to see such conditions […] although we have seen it during British colonisation,” Saravanan was quoted as saying by Astro Awani.
Malaysiakini understands that the Hulu Langat district office had seized the containers for allegedly being built without proper authorisation and the workers must be moved to another accommodation.
Brightway Human Resources Manager Alice Michael, however, claimed there were only 450 workers on-site, initially living in a three-storey building close to the factory but outside its boundary.
“There are only 450 workers, many of whom have hostels further away, but were brought into this building temporarily,” said Michael as quoted by Reuters.
Commenting further, Saravanan told Malaysiakini the ministry is only carrying out its duties to save the nation’s image in relations to labour issues.
“We are studying the offences,” he said when asked whether the company can be charged under the newly amended Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446).
Saravanan also confirmed that the company’s managing director will be summoned by the Bangi Labour Office next week as part of its investigations on the matter.
The Selangor Health Department has issued an order for the factory to be closed from Dec 24 to Dec 30 as “it was in a condition that may lead to the start or the spread of infectious diseases to the public” under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act. – Malasyiakini