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U.S. tiremaker Goodyear faces allegations of labor abuse in Malaysia

The Japan Times, Malaysia, 31 May 2021 - American tire manufacturer Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is facing accusations of unpaid wages, unlawful overtime and threats to foreign workers at its Malaysian factory, according to court documents and complaints filed by workers.

In interviews, six current and former foreign workers, as well as officials with Malaysia’s labor department, say Goodyear made wrongful salary deductions, required excessive hours and denied workers full access to their passports.

The department confirmed it had fined Goodyear in 2020 for overworking and underpaying foreign employees. One former worker said the company illegally kept his passport, showing an acknowledgement letter he signed in January 2020 upon getting it back eight years after he started working at Goodyear.

The allegations initially surfaced when 185 foreign workers filed three complaints against Goodyear Malaysia in the country’s industrial court, two in 2019 and one in 2020, over noncompliance with a collective labor agreement. The workers alleged the company was not giving them shift allowances, annual bonuses and pay increases even though these benefits were available to the local staff, who are represented by a labor union.

The court ruled in favor of the foreign workers in two of the cases last year, saying they were entitled to the same rights as Malaysian employees, according to copies of the judgment published on the court’s website. Goodyear was ordered to pay back wages and comply with the collective agreement, according to the judgment and the workers’ lawyer.

About 150 worker payslips, which the lawyer said were submitted to the court as evidence of unpaid wages and were reviewed by Reuters, showed some migrants working as many as 229 hours a month in overtime, exceeding the Malaysian limit of 104 hours.

The foreign workers are claiming about 5 million ringgit ($1.21 million) in unpaid wages, said their lawyer, Chandra Segaran Rajandran. The workers are from Nepal, Myanmar and India.

“They are put in a situation where they are being denied their full rights as what is provided for (by law),” he said, adding that it amounted to “discrimination.”

Goodyear, one of the world’s largest tire-makers, has challenged both verdicts at the high court. The appeal decision is expected on July 26. The verdict for the third case, over the same issues, is due in the coming weeks.

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Source: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/05/31/asia-pacific/goodyear-tire-malaysia/

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