A joint enforcement team had moved to raid a printing factory in Kapar, Klang, following reports that their former workers from Bangladesh had fled, alleging mistreatment and forced to seek refuge in the jungles.

Malaysiakini sighted a Labour Department report of the Sept 17 raid which stated that investigations are ongoing against Tiong Tat Printing Industry Sdn Bhd for alleged offences under the Employment Act 1955.

The alleged offences include the company’s failure to report the hiring of migrant workers; failure to report the termination of contract for their migrant workers; as well as irregular deductions to salaries of their workers.

Bangladesh-daily Kaler Kantho in collaboration with Malaysiakini had encountered two former Tiong Tat workers in the course of their extensive investigation on the predicament faced by Bangladeshis in Malaysia.

Acting on the special report published on Sept 13, a joint enforcement team led by Labour Department officials from Putrajaya had raided the factory’s premise and questioned a company official. According to the Labour Department report, the raiding team was informed that Tiong Tat had terminated the contract of six Bangladeshi workers who had allegedly instigated their colleagues to stop work and strike.

It noted that an unidentified agent was tasked to send the workers back to Bangladesh and the company official interviewed was unable to confirm whether the workers had actually returned home or otherwise.

The report stated it was suspected that the workers continued to remain in Malaysia, including one named SM Monir, who was quoted by Kaler Kantho and Malaysiakini.

Monir’s April payslip sighted by Kaler Kantho showed that he had earned RM1,588.88 that month including overtime but only received RM1,188.88 due to various deductions for supposed loans, lodging and utilities.

“I have never taken any loan from the company, yet they deducted it from my pay every month. “The contract had stated that lodging would be provided by the company, but they take money for it every month,” Monir had said at the time.

Another Tiong Tat former worker had also claimed that the management placed some 16 to 20 workers in hostel rooms meant for four persons and for that each of them had to part with RM50 a month. “If we protest, then security personnel would come in and torture the workers,” said Iftekharul Alam, who had fled together with Monir.

On Aug 12, 2018, the workers stopped work for one day to protest after attempts to take up the matter with their employer and the Bangladesh High Commission had failed. At the end of his tether, one worker posted a suicide threat on Facebook. This prompted two labour officials from the High Commission to visit the factory and the workers said a meeting was held between the officials and Tiong Tat’s management, although their situation never improved.

Aside from the company’s alleged offences under the Employment Act, five migrant workers were also arrested under the Immigration Act 1959/1963 for not possessing valid documents.

It is understood that the raiding team comprised personnel from the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Council (MAPO), Home Ministry, Immigration Department, Labour Department and police personnel. including from Bukit Aman’s anti-human trafficking and smuggling of migrants unit.