PENANG: A High Court judge directed a counsel representing 52 Indian workers suing their employer for breach of contract to send the statement of a witness to the Indian government.
Justice R.K. Nathan said the Indian authorities should be informed that India-based agents of foreign worker recruitment companies here were misleading its people who came here for employment opportunities.
He added the 52 workers had come all the way from India to work here and had to seek justice in Malaysian courts.
Earlier, the judge lambasted the witness Amarjeet Singh, 37, a foreign worker recruitment consultant, for testifying that he had never recruited workers from India.
“I gave you a chance to read through your statement but now you are telling this court that you have never supplied workers from India when in your sworn statement, you admitted assisting the factory in supplying Indian workers since 1995,” he said.
Amarjeet Singh said he was not aware the word “India” was included in the statement, as he had only supplied workers from Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia to the defendant company since that year.
Amarjeet Singh was testifying in the suit brought by Indian national Sampath Kumar Vellingiri and 51 others against Chin Well Fasteners, a Bukit Mertajam factory.
The Indians, mostly employed as general workers, are suing the factory for alleged breach of contract, and among others, failing to pay their minimum monthly wages of RM600 as agreed in their employment contract.
In their statement of claim, the workers said the factory forced them to work an extra five to seven hours each day, although the contract said they could not work for more than two hours after the mandatory eight-hour daily shift.
They also claimed they were paid only RM350 a month in basic salary and Muslim workers were denied time-off to perform their prayers.
The workers are seeking special damages of RM12,000 for each employee, exemplary and general damages, the return of their passports, interests, costs and other relief the court deemed fit.
In its defence, Chin Well Fasteners denied the workers were told they would be paid according to the contract.
It said the workers brought mental anguish upon themselves by putting pressure on the factory and demanding more salary.
Amarjeet Singh, in his statement, said he collected US$950 (RM3,600) from each worker, which was remuneration for all the work he had done.
“The workers were aware of this payment because they had agreed with Mithun Travels, a recruitment-cum-travel agency in India, to pay me this amount for my services,” he said.
He told the court the money was not a levy as alleged by the workers and no receipt was issued to them as he assumed the workers were aware it was his commission.
Mohideen Abdul Kader, A. Theivanai and M.S. Kumari represented the Indian workers while Ong Kheng Leong appeared for Chin Well Fasteners.
The case was fixed for submissions today.