At least 44 Nepalese migrant workers were arrested in Malaysia when about 500 of them rioted at an electronics factory and attacked officers after one their colleagues died due to alleged negligence of the firm.
The migrant workers turned violent at the factory run by JCY International – a Malaysian firm that makes parts for electronic giants like Samsung, Hitachi and Western Digital – in Johor state on Tuesday following the death of their colleague who complained of chest pains.
The enraged workers accuse the firm of negligence that led to their colleagues death, according to Nepal’s Foreign Ministry officials. The workers initially went on strike early yesterday to express their dissatisfaction over working conditions but they subsequently turned violent. The factory employed about 1,600 Nepalese workers.
About 125 police personnels including members of the anti-riot unit were deployed at the factory to chase away the rioters, according to local officials. The workers are reported to have stoned the factory and burned a car during the riots. The operations at the facility has been suspended pending investigations.
Malaysia is one of Asia’s largest importers of foreign labour, mostly from neighbouring Indonesia, Bangladesh and other regional countries. According to estimates, 7,000 Nepalese migrants work in Johor state area of Southeast Asia’s third largest economy.
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But foreign workers often are abused with long and poor working conditions and often do not enjoy labour laws protection. Yesterday’s incident happened less than a week after Malaysian Minister for Human Resources Datuk Richard Riot Jaem visited Nepal.
During the visit, Jaem discussed ways to improve the working condition of Nepali migrant workers in Malaysia.