KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) – Malaysian police have arrested 42 men after a riot by up to 1,000 mostly Nepalese workers sparked fires and destroyed parts of an electronics export factory, highlighting accusations of poor conditions for many of the estimated four million foreign workers in the South-east Asian country.
The riot broke out in the southern industrial hub of Johor state on Tuesday at a factory run by JCY International , a Malaysian firm that makes parts for electronic giants including Samsung, Hitachi and Western Digital.
Workers had accused the firm of negligence after an employee at a nearby JCY factory died last Thursday after complaining of chest pains, according to local news reports.
The unrest spilled over to the firm’s other factory in Kulaijaya, police said, culminating in a stand-off between riot police and protesters. The factory suspended operations on Wednesday.
“This was caused by a misunderstanding between the employer and employees over the terms of their work,” the district’s deputy police chief, Mohad Idris Samsuri, told Reuters.
Those arrested would be charged under the anti-rioting law, he said.