PETALING JAYA: A group of men from Kerala and Tamil Nadu in southern India took out bank loans so that they could have the chance to work in Malaysia.
However, that was far from the truth.
The 23 men, aged between 20 and 48, were promised six-day work weeks, free lodging and a monthly salary of RM1,500 to RM1,800.
When they arrived, their passports were seized and they were forced to work in factories in Selangor and Johor.
For three months, they endured back-breaking labour, working 14 hours each day. They were fed near-rancid food and lived in squalid conditions.
When they asked about their salaries, they were beaten and threatened. Their employers claimed that their wages had been paid to the agencies.
Ratheesh, 26, said the workers had no choice but to buy day-old food from a restaurant under their lodgings.
When he and several others fell ill from chicken pox, their employers refused to take them to the doctor and insisted that they come back to work after three days.
“We protested, but they brought gangsters to threaten us. We were too scared to do anything, so we worked,” he said.
Desperate, a worker approached T. Kamalanathan, president of the Malaysia Global Rescue Humanity organisation (MGRH), who managed to spirit them into a safe house, lodged a police report, and is now working on getting them home safely.
Kamalanathan said he would be taking the 23 men to the Indian High Commission today so they could be sent home, and urged the Indian government to crack down on dodgy agencies.