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May 31, 2021

Goodyear Malaysia Accused of 'Abusing' Foreign Workers

 US tire manufacturer, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. faced charges of non-payment of wages, ordered his employees to work overtime without following the law and threatened foreign workers at his factories in Malaysia.

According to court documents, the charges were filed by employees of the company.

In an interview with Reuters, six workers and former foreign workers as well as Labor Department officials said Goodyear was accused of illegally cutting pay, ordering workers to work overtime and denying workers full access to their passports.

The Labor Department confirmed it had imposed fines on Goodyear last year for the offense of ordering employees to work overtime than they should and paying low wages to foreign workers.

A former foreign worker whose identity was not disclosed said Goodyear had kept his passport illegally and only managed to get his passport back in January last year after 8 years working at the company.

The allegations against the company came after 185 foreign workers filed three complaints against Goodyear Malaysia in the Industrial Court, two in 2019 and one last year on the issue of Goodyear's non -compliance with labor collective agreements.

The workers claimed the company did not provide shift allowances, annual bonuses and salary increases even though all the benefits were given to local workers represented by trade unions.

The court ruled to ‘favor’ foreign workers in two cases last year, saying they were entitled to equal rights with local workers.

According to labor lawyers, Goodyear was ordered to repay wages and comply with collective agreements.

About 150 workers' salary slips were submitted to the court as evidence, showing that some foreign workers worked for 229 hours a month, exceeding the working time limit of Malaysians of 104 hours.

According to lawyer Chandra Segaran Rajandran, the foreign workers demanded salary arrears of about RM5 million. All of them are from Nepal, Myanmar and India.

"They are in a situation where they are denied full rights as provided by law," he explained.

Goodyear has challenged both decisions in the High Court. The outcome of the appeal is expected to be announced on July 26.

The decision on the third case on the same issue will be read out in a few weeks.

Earlier, Goodyear Malaysia claimed that foreign workers were not eligible to receive the benefits stipulated in the collective agreement because they were not union members.

However, a union representative confirmed that foreign workers were eligible to participate and entitled to benefits in the collective agreement even though they were not union members.

The court agreed that the scope of duties of foreign workers entitles them to receive all such benefits.

In addition, the foreign workers said they received threats from Goodyear after filing the suit. Goodyear however declined to comment further.