Updated | Police question Leisure Clothing director over exploitation allegations

Police have arrested a Chinese director of manufacturing company Leisure Clothing Limited following raid on the factory premises

Updated with ministry statement

Bin Han, one of the directors of Chinese owned company Leisure Clothing was taken by police under arrest for questioning, following a raid at the plant this morning, over allegations of unfair conditions of employment.

MaltaToday is informed that the police arrested Han after raiding the factory in Bulebel, where around 260 Chinese workers are allegedly exploited.

The ministry for consumer affairs, civil liberties and public dialogue issued a statement saying that the Department for Industrial and Employment Relations (DIER) had recently filed two separate cases in the criminal court against Leisure Clothing.

Minister Helena Dalli said that a previous investigation by DIER In 2007, found no irregularities. "Ealier this year, the department investigated cases related to the abuse of workers, finding that there was a breach of the EIRA... the charges were filed months before the media reports, and the department is continuing in its investigations over other working conditions, including those alleged in the press."The Chinese Embassy in Malta is monitoring the situation closely and keeping an eye on the latest developments concerning the factory which has recently been under the spotlight by a series of reports in the Nationalist Party newspaper In-Nazzjon, which claimed that police investigations over the alleged abuse of workers came to a halt following pressure by government.

The newspaper reported that Chinese workers tried to flee Malta using false passports after being brought to Malta to work in the Chinese government-owned factory.

Allegedly the Chinese nationals tried to exit the country after being smuggled into Malta after being promised a job at the factory and a €600 wage.

However, the four Chinese nationals who were detained by the police after attempting to leave Malta using false documents reportedly told the police that they were only being paid “a few tens of euros” because the company directors feared they would exit Malta and travel to another EU country.

Moreover, they claimed that the company was reducing payments for their visas, accommodation and food from their monthly wage.

Around 260 workers are lodged in huts, close to the Employment and Training Corporation (ETC) offices and the AFM barracks in Hal Far. Moreover, the workers also revealed the unhealthy and illegal working conditions.

In-Nazzjon this week claimed that the police investigations, which were at an advanced stage, came to a sudden halt “after the Maltese government succumbed to pressure by third parties” directly involved in the running of the company.

Leisure Clothing Limited started operations in 1987 following an agreement between Malta and the Chongqing regional authorities in China.