KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has charged Dyson supplier ATA IMS with four violations of labour law on accommodation for workers as it investigates complaints of forced labour, authorities said on Saturday (Dec 11).
The step comes after British home appliance maker Dyson said last month it was severing relations with ATA, and ending its contract within six months, after an independent audit of the company's labour practices and accusations by a whistleblower.
"The complaints were mainly on allegations of appalling working and living conditions and foreign workers being forced to work excessive overtime hours," Malaysia's labour department told Reuters in an email response.
"It is too early to make any conclusion on the allegations."
The department, which inspected the company in February, May and July, added that the four charges were for violations of minimum standards for worker accommodation.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the charges.
Reuters reported on Nov 25 and Dec 5 that ATA's mostly migrant workforce did overtime in excess of the monthly legal limit of 104 hours, and worked on Sundays.
ATA, which makes parts for Dyson vacuum cleaners and air purifiers, has said all overtime was voluntary, and that it paid double for work on Sundays and triple on public holidays.
The company has taken steps to ensure no recurrence, it added, saying it had begun a policy of zero overtime on Sunday that led to the resignations of nearly 300 workers in the first week of December.
Police are also investigating ATA over claims that a former worker was beaten by police after being taken to a police station where he was questioned about sharing information on working conditions with activists.
ATA has dismissed the accusations by the worker, Dhan Kumar Limbu, as unsubstantiated and "unlikely to have taken place".