August 11, 2008: In the latest round of negotiations between Polar Twin Advance (PTA) representatives and the workers’ advocates, the company showed up half an hour late. To date, PTA has not agreed to deal with the issue of back pay. The firm’s representatives did, however, confirm that they would work with the Vietnamese Embassy to return the passports to the workers to facilitate their repatriation.
So far, the workers’ representatives report, Polar Twin Advance clearly wants no part in compensating the workers, or in paying their airfares home.
The workers’ representatives also reported that the Industrial Relations Department would like to refer the case to Human Resource Minister S. Subramaniam as soon as possible.
Subramaniam is currently entangled in other disputes involving guest laborers. At the beginning of August, he rejected allegations made by Nike that foreign workers at its contract factory were being abused, according to AFP.
According to the AFP article, Nike Inc said it was monitoring Hytex Group, which has been producing Nike garments for more than a decade, after finding evidence of abuse of migrant workers at its factory north of Kuala Lumpur. Nike’s probe found that some 1,200 foreign workers employed by Hytex were living in unacceptable conditions, had their passports withheld, and salaries cut to pay agency recruiting fees and worker’s permit fees.
However, Subramaniam denied the allegations, saying that the deductions were legal and that no labor laws had been violated.