IOM and the Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry Hold Webinar to Guide Malaysian Businesses through Forced Labour Frameworks

Date: Jan 07, 2021
Location(s): Kuala Lumpur

KUALA LUMPUR, December 17, 2020 – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) jointly hosted the webinar “Forced Labour: The US, UK and Australian Perspective”. The webinar aimed to guide Malaysian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through the forced labour frameworks of the United States of America (US), the United Kingdom (UK) and Australia. Attended by over 370 attendees, this event included speakers from the IOM, MITI, the Malaysian Ministry of Human Resources, and industry experts.

The webinar built the capacities of Malaysian SMEs as exporters to these major importing countries and equipped them with know-how to prevent legal, reputational, and financial risks to their businesses. “The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), restricts certain goods in Malaysia [from entering the US]. This has caused a loss in revenue and impaired the companies’ reputation,” said MITI Deputy Secretary-General for Industrial Development, Dato’ Sri Norazman Ayob, in his opening remarks on the impact of forced labour allegations.

“The US, UK and Australia are major importing nations; a lot of Malaysian businesses including SMEs export to these countries and now there is increased attention on Malaysia with the news about the US ban of palm oil and rubber gloves. Malaysian businesses must take this issue seriously,” said Joanne Chua, National Programme Officer, IOM Malaysia, who introduced how forced labour laws in the US, UK, and Australia could affect Malaysian SMEs. 

Mathew Thomas Philip, Managing Partner of Thomas Philip Advocates & Solicitors, an industry representative, shared his experience from the lift of a US ban on merchandise produced by forced labour and reminded businesses that they must treat migrant workers humanely if they are serious about eliminating labour exploitation.

The webinar participants were also updated on the Malaysian Government’s efforts to address forced labour in the private sector and their approach to enforcement of related laws. According to Mohd Asri Abd Wahab, Deputy Director General (Operational) in the Department of Labour, Ministry of Human Resources Malaysia, the government conducted 1,322 enforcement and inspection activities related to workers’ accommodations in Peninsular Malaysia since the 1st of September, 2020 to ensure decent housing standards for all workers.  
Also representing the industry, Balan Shanmuganathan, Senior Director (Sustainability) of Seagate Technology shared his and other multi-national companies expectations of suppliers in their efforts to address forced labour within supply chains. He emphasized that adequate due diligence is important to strengthen protection of workers’ rights.

This initiative is part of the IOM Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking (CREST) which aims to enhance the protection of the human and labour rights of migrant workers in business operations and international labour supply chains.
For more information, please contact IOM at [email protected] 


Media Contacts:

Joanne Tsu Fae Chua, National Programme Officer
International Organization for Migration – UN Migration Agency
Phone: +6016 663 0148
[email protected] 

About the International Organization for Migration
Established in 1951, IOM is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental partners. With 173 member states and offices in over 100 countries, IOM helps to ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, promotes international cooperation on migration issues, assists in the search for practical solutions to migration problems, and provides humanitarian assistance to migrants in need. In the field of labour migration, IOM operates IRIS: Ethical Recruitment, a global multi-stakeholder initiative that supports governments, civil society, the private sector and recruiters to establish ethical recruitment as the norm in cross-border labour migration and CREST, a regional partnership initiative that aims to realize the potential of business to uphold the human and labour rights of migrant workers in their operations and supply chains.

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