Accusations of unpaid wages, unlawful overtime and threats to foreign workers have been made against the American tyre manufacturer Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company at its Malaysian plant. This is based on court documents and complaints filed by foreign workers employed by the company.
Six current and former foreign workers, and officials with Malaysia’s Labour Department were interviewed by news media house, Reuters. They claim that Goodyear made wrongful salary deductions, denied workers full access to their passports and required excessive overtime hours.
Just last year, the Labour Department fined Goodyear for underpaying foreign employees and overworking them. The company illegally retained one former worker’s passport. Reuters was shown an acknowledgement letter that the foreign worker signed in January 2020 upon getting the passport back. The company held his passport for eight years, which is when he started working for them.
A total of 185 foreign workers filed three complaints against Goodyear Malaysia in the country’s industrial court. This is when the allegations came to light. All 3 complaints were over non-compliance with a collective labour agreement. The year 2019 saw the filing of two complaints. Another complaint followed in 2020.
The company denied shift allowances, annual bonuses and pay increases to the foreign workers by the company. This is despite the fact that the benefits were received by local staff, who are represented by a labour union.
Last year, the foreign workers won two of the cases. The court ruled in their favour. According to the judgement published on the court’s website, foreign workers should receive the same rights as Malaysian employees. According to the judgement and the workers’ lawyer, Goodyear had to pay back wages and comply with the collective agreement.
Malaysian Labour Law limits overtime work to a maximum of 104 hours per month. Some foreign workers at Goodyear worked as many as 229 hours a month in overtime. There was proof of unpaid wages on the pay slips. The lawyer submitted 150 worker pay slips to the court as evidence. The pay slips were also reviewed by Reuters.
Their lawyer representing the foreign workers is Mr Chandra Segaran Rajandran. Mr Rajandran said the foreign workers are claiming around RM5 million (US$1.21 million) in unpaid wages. The foreign workers come from India, Nepal, and Myanmar.
Explaining that this case amounts to “discrimination”, Mr. Rajandran said “They are put in a situation where they are being denied their full rights as what is provided for (by law).“
Goodyear is challenging both verdicts at the high court. The company is one of the world’s largest tyre manufacturers. The court’s decision on the appeal will come out on Jul 26th.
The verdict for the third case over similar issues should follow in a few weeks as well.
As the cases are still in progress, Goodyear does not want to comment on any of the allegations.
Foreign workers are not union members according to Goodyear Malaysia. Hence the company argues that they should not receive the benefits of the CA (collective agreement).
Based on the court ruling last year, foreign workers are eligible to join the workers union. As such, even if they are not union members, they should receive the benefits in the CA. This according to a testimony given by a union representative during the court proceedings. The foreign workers’ job scope entitled them to those benefits. This was agreed to by the court.
Goodyear informed Reuters that when it comes to protecting human rights, it has strong policies and practices.
In an email, a representative said “We take seriously any allegations of improper behaviour relating to our associates, operations and supply chain.”
Reuters’ requested comments on the workers’ complaints from the union, the National Union of Employees in Companies Manufacturing Rubber Products. To date there is no response from the union.
Permodalan Nasional Berhad is Malaysia’s country’s largest fund manager. It jointly owns Goodyear’s Malaysian operations.
31st May 2021 23:00
This article brought to you by Legacy Times 传城时代