U.S. tire maker Goodyear faces allegations of labor abuse in Malaysia, paperwork present

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KUALA LUMPUR — American tire producer Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co is dealing with accusations of unpaid wages, illegal extra time and threats to international staff at its Malaysian manufacturing facility, in line with court docket paperwork and complaints filed by staff.

In interviews with Reuters, six present and former international staff, and officers with Malaysia’s labor division, say Goodyear made wrongful wage deductions, required extreme hours and denied staff full entry to their passports.

The division confirmed it had fined Goodyear in 2020 for overworking and underpaying international workers. One former employee stated the corporate illegally saved his passport, exhibiting Reuters an acknowledgement letter he signed in January 2020 upon getting it again eight years after he began working at Goodyear.

The allegations, which Reuters is the primary to report, initially surfaced when 185 international staff filed three complaints in opposition to Goodyear Malaysia within the nation’s industrial court docket, two in 2019 and one in 2020, over non-compliance with a collective labor settlement. The employees alleged the corporate was not giving them shift allowances, annual bonuses and pay will increase regardless that these advantages have been out there to the native workers, who’re represented by a labor union.

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The court docket dominated in favor of the international staff in two of the cases final yr, saying they have been entitled to the identical rights as Malaysian workers, in line with copies of the judgment printed on the court docket’s website. Goodyear was ordered to pay again wages and adjust to the collective settlement, in line with the judgment and the employees’ lawyer.

About 150 employee payslips, which the lawyer stated have been submitted to the court docket as proof of unpaid wages and reviewed by Reuters, confirmed some migrants working as many as 229 hours a month in extra time, exceeding the Malaysian restrict of 104 hours.

The international staff are claiming about 5 million ringgit ($1.21 million) in unpaid wages, stated their lawyer, Chandra Segaran Rajandran. The employees are from Nepal, Myanmar and India.

“They’re put in a scenario the place they’re being denied their full rights as what’s supplied for (by regulation),” he stated, including that it amounted to “discrimination.”

Goodyear, one of many world’s largest tire makers, has challenged each verdicts on the excessive court docket. The attraction determination is anticipated on July 26. The decision for the third case, over the identical points, is due within the coming weeks.

Goodyear declined to touch upon any of the allegations, citing the court docket course of. In keeping with the court docket ruling final yr, Goodyear Malaysia argued that international staff aren’t entitled to the advantages of the collective settlement as a result of they don’t seem to be union members.

In keeping with the ruling, a union consultant testified that international staff are eligible to affix and are entitled to the advantages within the collective settlement even when they don’t seem to be members. The court docket agreed that the international staff’ job scope entitled them to these advantages.

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Goodyear informed Reuters it has sturdy insurance policies and practices referring to and defending human rights.

“We take critically any allegations of improper habits referring to our associates, operations and provide chain,” a consultant stated in an e-mail.

The union – the Nationwide Union of Staff in Corporations Manufacturing Rubber Merchandise – didn’t reply to Reuters’ requests for touch upon the employees’ complaints.

Goodyear’s Malaysia operation is collectively owned by the nation’s largest fund supervisor, Permodalan Nasional Berhad, which directed queries to Goodyear.

FINES AND VIOLATIONS

Employees stated they confronted intimidation from Goodyear after they filed the lawsuits. Goodyear declined to remark.

“The corporate had totally different guidelines for various units of staff,” stated Sharan Kumar Rai, who filed one of many lawsuits and labored at Goodyear in Malaysia from 2012 till final yr.

The international staff filed the primary two lawsuits in July 2019. Quickly afterward, Goodyear requested some to signal letters, with out their lawyer’s data, that they’d withdraw from the authorized motion, in line with their lawyer, police complaints filed in October 2019 and a duplicate of the letter seen by Reuters. Reporting a grievance to police doesn’t at all times end in prison prices however can set off an investigation.

Industrial court docket chairman Anna Ng Fui Choo stated in her ruling that the letter “was an act of unfair labor observe.”

Malaysia’s labor division informed Reuters it had investigated and charged Goodyear in 2020 over 9 violations of labor legal guidelines, unrelated to the lawsuits, relating to extreme hours and wrongful wage deductions. It fined Goodyear 41,500 ringgit ($10,050), it stated.

Malaysia has lately confronted accusations from its personal Human Assets Ministry and authorities in the USA of labor abuse at its factories, which depend on hundreds of thousands of migrant staff to fabricate the whole lot from palm oil to medical gloves and iPhone parts.

($1 = 4.1255 ringgit) (Reporting by Mei Mei Chu and A. Ananthalakshmi. Modifying by Gerry Doyle)

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In-depth reporting on the innovation financial system from The Logic, dropped at you in partnership with the Monetary Publish.

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