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Breaking the Bonds of Bonded Employment

A Labor of Love and Justice

Tue Jun 13 23:00:00 EDT 2017

Every day, thousands of people across Asia leave their homes and families in hopes of finding stable employment in other countries to help them improve their lives. Yet, what they often encounter is frightening instability and a nightmare of exponentially mounting debt.

Attracted by exploitative recruitment agencies promising skill development, career advancement, and prosperity for their families, workers scrape together what money they can to cover exorbitant recruitment fees and are transported to countries like Malaysia to work. They end up not only indebted to those agencies back home, but they must also pay fees to those which place them in the new country. It’s is a perfectly legal practice, yet one that flies against the face of fair labor and defies every notion of human rights as we know it.

At Jabil, it is unacceptable.

In an era of such advanced knowledge, technology, and human rights enlightenment, antiquated practices such as bonded labor still persist in many nations. In fact, according to the International Labor Organization, 21 million migrant workers worldwide are victims of forced labor.

In 2012, we discovered such practices in our own Malaysia operations. Immediate actions were taken to free our migrant employees of their indebtedness. Jabil paid off their agency debts in excess of $2 million, and through these and other similar interventions, we’re helping to change the face of recruitment.

Our recruiters now travel to the home countries of prospective employees to vet these agencies, closely monitoring agency pay slips to ensure they’re not making illegal deductions. And we regularly speak to our migrant employees to be sure they are there freely.

As policy today, Jabil insists on working with only legitimate recruitment agencies, and employees are no longer required to pay such outrageous recruitment fees. By collaborating with these agencies early on, and directly, Jabil is able to absorb these recruitment fees, safely relocating thousands of employees from such places as Nepal, Indonesia, and Vietnam to work at our plants in Malaysia. We also provide  safe housing and empowering social and cultural assimilation programs to help them  thrive both in their professional and personal lives.

Our migrant employees now say they seek out Jabil and renew their contracts with us because of our commitments.

While it is true that the investment for Jabil has been significant in establishing and maintaining these labor rights initiatives at our plants in Penang, Malaysia, and beyond, the moral imperative to correct these wrongs was undeniably clear. And the invaluable dividends we are now able to see on a human scale every day are impossible to measure.

Such life-changing advocacy helps cultivate a culturally rich and diverse workforce for Jabil of happier, healthier employees, improving not only the quality of the products we deliver, but also our service and performance to customers.

We invite you to learn more about Jabil’s ongoing commitment to ensuring fair treatment of our employees worldwide, as well as other vital global SER programs and initiatives, such as workplace safety, sustainability, mineral conflict resolution and more, all at jabil.com.