ATA IMS Bhd, in reference to a Reuters article accusing the company of violations, assures all interested stakeholders that the wellbeing of its workforce is of utmost importance, and it is committed to continually improving its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices.
It says its endeavour is to be a leading company in the Electronics Manufacturing Service (EMS) industry and is confident that with the range of improvement actions taken it is compliant with all regulations and standards.
The company says it looks forward to getting external audits that are expected to be conducted in the near future to confirm its compliance.
The Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) is also expected to conduct an audit early next year, to assess ATA’s application for full membership to the coalition.
In the media release today, ATA IMS listed the immediate remedial actions it is taking regarding workers’ overtime, saying there is a zero Sunday overtime policy, effective Nov 1, 2021.
“ATA’s company policy strictly adheres to Malaysian labour law, which permits up to 104 hours on normal working days in a month. If workers perform over time, it is solely on a voluntary basis.
“The Company pays workers double pay for working on Sundays and triple pay for working on public holidays.
“With regards to non-compliance with the rules and regulations of workers’ overtime among some managers within the Company, the Company had swiftly taken disciplinary action against these managers and put in place additional remedial actions to ensure this does not reoccur. These measures include the implementation of a Zero Sunday Overtime policy, effective Monday, 1 November 2021,” it says.
National Recalibration Programme
The Company’s workforce is made up mainly of local (Malaysian) workers. During the pandemic, when the Government had instated the national lockdowns (known as the Movement Control Order, MCO) and businesses were ordered to limit or stop operations altogether, most of ATA’s local workers had chosen to leave the Company in favour of pursuing gig work.
After the MCO was lifted, these workers chose to continue working in various gig economy jobs, such as in malls, theatres, restaurants, as well as logistics. “Challenges with regards to work permits faced by the Company and others within the industry and sector occurred during the MCO when the relevant government offices were not in operations or were running at limited capacity.
“To mitigate this challenge, the Company participated in the National Recalibration Programme (NRP) when it was initiated in November 2020. This programme aims to regularise undocumented foreigners either by enabling them to return to their home countries or to be employed by eligible employers. However, due to challenges faced by the Company to obtain timely approvals through the NRP, it has ceased participating in the programme. ATA has shared this information with most independent audit firms and relevant government authorities; and reiterates that all its workers have valid work permits,” it says.
Whistleblowing Policy and Channels
ATA says it implements various external whistleblowing channels operated by independent third parties, supported by the Malaysian Government, and the Company’s Human Resources department. These channels are prominently promoted and advertised within the Company’s premises, including at its factories and workers’ accommodations.
“The Company is increasing the number of informational sessions for its workers, enabling them to better understand their rights and know the channels through which they can safely provide their feedback and grievances.”
Sumnonses By Jabatan Tenaga Kerja Johor
With regards to summons by the Jabatan Tenaga Kerja Johor Bahru, the Company strongly reiterates that the four summonses that were issued in October 2021 by the JTK, an agency under the Ministry of Human Resources Malaysia (MOHR), are not part of the current allegations of forced labour that Reuters and other media have repetitively made regarding the contract between ATA and Dyson.
“Those summonses were in accordance with Section 24D (1) and (3) of the Employees’ Minimum Standards of Housing, Accommodation and Amenities Act 1990 (the Act) and were issued to ATA following JTK Johor Bahru’s inspection to ATA’s factory and workers’ accommodations in May 2021,” it says.
The Department issued these summonses as the Company had accommodated workers in a way that was not in compliance with the Act. These workers, who had decided to return to their home countries, and thus whose permits had expired, were not allowed to be placed at the Company’s hostels, as per the relevant Certification of Approval (COA).
These workers had special arrangements with Malaysia’s Immigration Department while waiting for their departure, which was made difficult as their return flights were either delayed or cancelled due to national lockdowns and the closure of international borders. With the welfare of these workers in mind, ATA went above and beyond usual practices to provide accommodation for these workers, which unfortunately conflicted with the normal regulations.
The Company had taken the necessary steps to facilitate and expedite the return of these workers to their home countries. Cognisant of these unprecedented circumstances and the challenges presented during the pandemic, ATA has written to the offices of the Attorney General of Malaysia requesting the revocation of these summonses and is currently awaiting their response.
Allegations Of Former Workers
ATA also states it takes such allegations and the media’s repeated inaccuracy in its reporting on the matter seriously. “ATA firmly states that it has taken immediate steps to address the matter with the Johor police. The Company had informed Reuters via a media statement issued to the publication on Friday, December 7, 2021, that it had engaged a prominent law firm to audit and investigate these allegations that were made by a few ATA employees including foreign worker, Dhan Kumar Limbu.
“This statement was also shared with other media houses the same day. Based on its findings, the law firm had concluded that the allegation made by the Dhan Kumar Limbu is unjustified, unsubstantiated, and unlikely to have taken place.”
The Johor police, too, had issued a statement on Saturday, November 27, 2021, stating it had not received any reports regarding the alleged physical abuse by the police of the aforesaid ATA worker and that “the police would look into the matter and conduct an investigation if there were such incidents reported”.
The Star Media Group has published an article on the matter, which has been available on its website since Saturday, 27 November 2021, at the following URL: No report received over factory worker allegedly beaten during custody, says Johor police.
To the best of ATA’s knowledge, based on the statement by the Johor police, the police is not investigating these allegations as it has received no reports on the allegations. “Once again, the Company seeks the media’s immediate cooperation to refrain from repeatedly mentioning in its reporting that ATA “has dismissed the accusations” when in fact the Company has taken steps to address this matter with the Johor police, as reiterated,” it says.
In the media statement it says ATA considers all key issues closed and, as it steps up on its ESG efforts and works towards better ESG initiatives, the Company reiterates that it is firm in its commitment to continue working closely with the Government, the Ministry of Human Resources, and relevant bodies this is space.
“ATA hopes for all parties to be fair and to await the response from the offices of the Attorney General of Malaysia on the revocation of the summonses by JTK Johor Bahru, and to consider ATA’s remedial measures in ensuring the wellbeing of its local and foreign workforce, and to maintain a neutral and balanced position in reporting of the Company.”