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US tire maker Goodyear faces allegations of labour abuse in Malaysia, documents show

American tire producer Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co is dealing with accusations of unpaid wages, illegal additional time and threats to overseas staff at its Malaysian manufacturing unit, based on court docket paperwork and complaints filed by staff.

In interviews with Reuters, six present and former overseas staff, and officers with Malaysia’s labour 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 overseas workers. One former employee stated the corporate illegally stored his passport, displaying 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 overseas 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 labour settlement. The employees alleged the corporate was not giving them shift allowances, annual bonuses and pay will increase regardless that these advantages have been accessible to the native workers, who’re represented by a labour union.

The court docket dominated in favour of the overseas staff in two of the instances final yr, saying they have been entitled to the identical rights as Malaysian workers, based on copies of the judgement revealed on the court docket’s web site. Goodyear was ordered to pay again wages and adjust to the collective settlement, based on the judgement 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 additional time, exceeding the Malaysian restrict of 104 hours.

The overseas 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 state of affairs the place they’re being denied their full rights as what’s supplied for (by legislation),” 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 enchantment 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 accordance with the court docket ruling final yr, Goodyear Malaysia argued that overseas staff should not entitled to the advantages of the collective settlement as a result of they aren’t union members.

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

Goodyear advised Reuters it has robust insurance policies and practices referring to and defending human rights.

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

The union — the Nationwide Union of Workers in Firms 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.

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

“The corporate had completely 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 overseas 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, based on their lawyer, police complaints filed in October 2019 and a replica of the letter seen by Reuters. Reporting a grievance to police doesn’t at all times lead to felony fees 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 labour observe”.

Malaysia’s labour division advised Reuters it had investigated and charged Goodyear in 2020 over 9 violations of labour legal guidelines, unrelated to the lawsuits, concerning 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 Sources Ministry and authorities in america of labour abuse at its factories, which depend on hundreds of thousands of migrant staff to fabricate all the things from palm oil to medical gloves and iPhone parts.

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