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Malaysia’s HR minister rejects Nike’s abuse claims
Malaysia’s human resource minister has rejected allegations made by Nike that foreign workers at its contract factory were abused, said AFP Wednesday.

Nike Inc said last week that it was monitoring Hytex Group, which has been producing Nike garments for more than a decade, after it found evidence of abuse of migrant workers at its factory in the industrial area of Kepong, north of Kuala Lumpur.

The US sportswear giant’s probe found that some 1,200 foreign workers employed by Hytex were living in unacceptable conditions, had their passports withheld, and salaries cut to pay agency recruiting fees and worker’s permit fees.

However Malaysian Human Resources Minister S. Subramaniam denied the allegations, saying that the deductions were legal and that no labour law was violated.
“The salaries given to the foreign workers are broken down into basic pay, overtime and attendance allowances,” Subramaniam was quoted as saying by state Bernama news agency late Tuesday.

He said a worker earned between 840-1,500 ringgit (257-458 dollars) a month depending on their seniority, performance and overtime.

“Employers will deduct 100 monthly to pay for levy charges imposed by the immigration department for foreign workers,” he said.

He said Malaysian employers withheld migrant workers’ passports for “safety reasons,” but instead issued them with personal identity cards.

“It has been a policy in this country for quite a number of employers to keep the passports for safety reasons. If the workers ask for it for any reason, they are supposed to give them back,” he said.

On allegations that workers were living in appalling conditions, he said his officers would investigate if the accommodation provided by the factory was “unfit to live in.”

Nike has warned that it is reviewing its entire Malaysian contract factory base and has demanded that all Nike factories here adhere to its policies.

Steps to protect the migrant workers at Hytex are already underway with many being moved into new Nike-inspected and approved housing and have their salaries reimbursed.

Hytex has also been ordered to return the workers’ passports without restrictions.

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