PETALING JAYA | A group of workers have claimed that their employer, leading glove maker WRP Asia Pacific, prevented them from leaving their hostel to meet Labour Department officials today.
Various sources told FMT that several workers had wanted to go to Putrajaya to file complaints over unpaid wages and unlawful salary deductions but were apparently not allowed to leave the compound where the company’s factory and hostel were located in Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi in Sepang, Selangor.
“A group of us wanted to go to Putrajaya but we were stopped at the gate by security,” a WRP worker told FMT.
“The gates were locked and people who were outside were also not allowed in.”
The workers had also wanted to meet Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran during his ministry’s weekly open day to discuss their concerns regarding unpaid wages, their legal status and job security.
One of Malaysia’s leading rubber glove manufacturers, WRP’s exports to the United States were banned by the US Customs and Border Protection in September after charges that its gloves were produced with forced labour.
This triggered a chain of events that has since seen WRP suspend production.
In a statement issued today evening, Thomas Philip Advocates & Solicitors, the legal firm acting on behalf of WRP’s board of directors, refuted allegations that they had restricted the movement of their employees.
“The board of directors of WRP Asia Pacific has not at any point in time instructed or authorised any of their representatives to restrict the movement of employees.
“The board of directors will commence investigations into any such allegations,” said Mathew Thomas Philip, the law firm’s founder and managing partner.
Philip also said that the board and their representatives were at the company’s premises to settle the wages of some 2,000 Nepali and Bangladesh workers.
However, a worker interviewed by FMT said that they only received their basic salaries but not their overtime pay.
They are also accusing WRP of unlawful deductions for work permits, which have to be borne by employers.
Selangor Anti-Human Trafficking Council (Mapmas) member Abdul Aziz Ismail told FMT he was waiting in Putrajaya for the group of eight foreign workers to accompany them to the Labour Department when they called to say they could not leave their hostel grounds.
WRP was in the headlines last January when nearly 2,000 Nepali workers staged a three-day strike after claiming they had not been paid for three months.
A subsequent investigation by the Labour Department found that the company was guilty of withholding workers’ salaries, not paying overtime wages, making unfair pay cuts and had wrongful working hours during breaks and public holidays.
WRP has also taken legal action against its former managing director and chief executive officer, Lee Son Hong, who was removed in November.
Apart from claiming that Lee refused to answer to the board of directors and wanted to wind up the company, the board has also filed action against him for criminal breach of trust involving RM8.4 million.