Malaysia is one of Asia's biggest employers of foreign labour. But recently, cases of deaths, abuse and forced labour have come to light. What is going on? Who is protecting these migrant workers?
Malaysian Trade Union Congress(MTUC) is deeply concerned about the state of affairs in Malaysia and its impact on workers.
What has surfaced is, amongst others, the allegation of corruption against Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in connection with the about RM2.6 billion allegedly found in his personal bank accounts, the allegation of ‘wrongs’ done by 1MDB, related companies and possibly other government-linked companies (GLCs). There is also the perception that there is also interference in various available investigation mechanisms in Malaysia, be it the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission(MACC), the Attorney General’s Chambers, police, Public Accounts Committee(PAC) of the Parliament, the Special Task Force and others. All these, including the dropping Malaysian ringgit which MTUC believes is also because of the above, may have a negative impact on workers.
Many businesses and investors consider a ‘clean corrupt free’ government, effective legal mechanisms and proper enforcement for justice as an attractive reason to come set up their businesses in Malaysia, or even remain in Malaysia.
MTUC is concerned that the dropping Malaysian Ringgit may also cause an increase in the cost of living of workers, and unless wages of workers are increased, this will cause great difficulties for workers and their families. While dropping oil prices and other factors may be caused, it cannot be denied that these corruption allegations and matters related will also be an added factor for the decline of the Malaysian currency value.
MTUC reiterates that the Minimum Wages, which workers in Malaysia have been enjoying since 1 January 2013, should have been increased latest by 1 January 2015. We draw your attention to our statement, that can be found on our website, entitled ‘MTUC disappointed that after 2 years and 4 months, workers Minimum Wage rates still not increased’ which was issued on 19/5/2015. Wages, especially Minimum Wages, need to be increased now to enable workers to cope with their economic welfare.
Of late, there has been news that many factories, like JVC Kenwood Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Ansell Malaysia Sdn Bhd, and Fairchild Semiconductor International Inc( known before as National Semiconductor), have closed down or will be closing down, which will leave thousands of workers unemployed. About 1,891 employees of CIMB Group in Malaysia are also out of work, After 31st August, there will also be about 6,000 employees of Malaysian Airlines Systems Berhad(MAS Bhd) who will be out of work.
MTUC believes that there are many more workers in Malaysia who are out of employment, and that many more will lose their jobs in the near future.
MTUC has called for many measures like the emergency financial assistance for workers out of work, and Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) for all workers, all of which would have been most helpful for workers in Malaysia during these difficult times. We need legally provided protections and rights to assist workers in such difficult times.
It is of utmost importance for our Prime Minister and our government to restore public confidence, which would naturally include independent transparent investigation and due process of law. No one is above the law.
A public perception and confidence that Malaysia has a corrupt-free Prime Minister and government, and that Malaysia believes in justice is what we need for the welfare and wellbeing of the about 12 million workers and their families.
N. Gopal Kishnam
Tel: + 6 019 317 4717
Address: Wisma MTUC,10-5, Jalan USJ 9/5T, 47620 Subang Jaya,Selangor | Tel: 03-80242953 | Fax: 03-80243225 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org