MOSCOW (Sputnik) — In an investigation carried out by The Guardian newspaper, migrant Nepalese workers assembling electronic equipment for the two multinationals in Malaysia were revealed to be paid below the local minimum wage, being forced to pay off recruitment fees as well as having to pay three months of wages when leaving before contract expiry.
"Panasonic will conduct a full investigation into the claims made by the Guardian. We are taking these allegations very seriously and if, in fact, we discover that one of our suppliers has violated such laws or regulations, we will ensure and require them to take necessary corrective action immediately," Panasonic said in a statement to the newspaper after being told of the investigation.
A Samsung spokesperson likewise said the Korean-based company is carrying out on-site investigations into alleged abuses, promising to carry out corrections if necessary.
According to the investigation, the Nepalese workers were forced to pay over $1,000 in fees to recruiters before leaving Nepal despite their wages amounting to less than $200 per month, half of what was promised by the recruiters.
Malaysia's economy relies heavily on electronics exports, which reach almost 50 percent of manufactured exports and over 30 percent of total exports from the country, according to Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation data. Labor rights organizations have reported widespread abuse of workers' rights in the Southeast Asian country, with a 2014 study by the Verite fair labor NGO revealing that up to one third of migrant workers in the Malaysian electronics industry are trapped in forced labor.