December 4, 2008: This is Part Two in a series on the struggle of Vietnamese guest workers employed in Malaysia through the firm Winbond.
Two workers, as mentioned in the previous post, escaped from their place of employment and made their way to the goodwill embassy of the Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA). Besides the two who escaped, there were two others they had left behind. Of the four, two were recent arrivals, one had arrived three months earlier, and the other had arrived six months earlier. Not one had been paid.
As one, Nguyen Thi Ha, told CAMSA staff, “The company forced me to sign a receipt for three months’ pay, but I never got any of it.”
The contracts that each worker had signed in Vietnam stipulated that each would spend 12 hours daily doing housework in an employer’s home. In reality, each found herself forced to work from 5am until 11pm every single day.
They were working not only without pay, but also under stressful and humiliating conditions, as they explained to CAMSA. Whenever the homeowner expressed dissatisfaction their work, the company would move them to another house to work for a different family. The company staff yelled at them for not performing well, but did not bother to ask for the workers’ side of the story.
Worse still, while in-between assignments, the women were put in a group house where they were kept them under guard, given little food, and forbidden to use the phone to communicate with anyone.
More details of the Winbond workers’ struggle are coming soon.