Dyson splits with Malaysia supplier, stoking concern over migrant worker treatment

Analysts say the increased scrutiny of Malaysia could increase production costs and deter investors. The United States has banned six Malaysian firms in the last two years over accusations of forced labour.

(Reuters) – A short drive across the border from Dyson’s new headquarters in Singapore is the boomtown built around its business: a Malaysian industrial area dominated by its biggest supplier, ATA IMS Bhd (ATAI.KL).

ATA, one of Malaysia’s top electronics manufacturing services providers, rode Dyson’s success in high-end vacuum cleaners and air purifiers, supplying parts for a company that came to account for 80% of its revenue.

Ten current and former employees, and a former ATA executive, say the growth came at an unseen cost: its mostly migrant work force worked up to 15 hours a day, were often asked to skip rest days to keep up with demand, and were coached to hide true working and living conditions from labour inspectors and Dyson.

In interviews over the last two months, the employees also say ATA, which analysts say is Dyson’s biggest global contract manufacturer, hired thousands of foreigners without work permits.

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