Fearing deportation, 16 migrant workers from Bangladesh have been hiding in Malaysian jungles for nearly a year.
According to Malaysian news site Malay Mail, these groups of Bangladeshi workers near Kuala Lumpur fled to an oil palm grove near a highway after their jobs were terminated last year.
One of the workers in hiding, Al-Amin of Barisal, told the local news site Malaysiakini, “Back home, the cows in my house live in better conditions.”
He said that he and several others had been working at a printing plant in Kapar, Selangor. They were fired for taking part in a labour protest after their wages were deducted for overcrowded lodgings where 20 people would share a room meant for four.
The workers who were interviewed claimed that after failed negotiations between the Bangladesh High Commission and their employer, two of the workers were captured and deported without their due salaries. The others fled in fear of the same fate.
Bangladesh High Commissioner Mohammed Muksed Ali was quoted as saying that the company penalised employees for ‘offences’ like talking on the phone, smoking and not wearing the shoes sanctioned by the company. They were being deported for ‘breaking company rules,’ he said.
Mannan Miah from Kishoreganj, also a fugitive worker, said he paid nearly Tk 250,000 to a broker for a job in Malaysia, but had nothing to show for it. He said the brokers had smashed his dreams. He now worked hard all day and slept in the jungles at night.
According to Malay Mail, since 2005 till date, a total of 4321 Bangladeshi workers have died in Malaysia. Last year alone 736 deaths were reported. The workers were aged between 18 and 32. Most of the deceased died of heart attacks or stroke.