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?
AS expected, the results of the US presidential election has led to uncertainty about the future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). This is very much clear as the President Barack Obama’s administration has suspended its efforts to win Congressional approval for his Asian free-trade deal before President-elect Donald Trump takes office on January 20, 2017. Now TPPA’s fate was up to Trump and Republican law makers. Trump made his opposition to the TPPA by stating that he will scrap the TPPA, renegotiate the 22-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement and adopt a much tougher stance with China trade.
From the beginning, Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has pointed its opposition towards the TPPA. MTUC believes that the TPPA would bring more negative implications on the interest of Malaysia, to our people especially workers. As TPPA is facing uncertainties and it is almost clear that the implementation in 2018 won’t take place as planned and negotiated, thus MTUC is looking forward to see reforms in the labour laws in Malaysia. It is our hope that Malaysia will implement labour laws reforms to enhance protection on our workers.
Last year our government has agreed to amend various labour laws and regulations in line with TPPA’s negotiation process. Among others are provisions and commitments highlighted in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Declaration of 1998. For this to be done successfully, there will be at least eight law amendments concerning the provisions on forced labour and freedom of association.
The amendments are required for the Employment Act 1955, Trade Union Act 1959, the Child and Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1966, Passport Act 1966 (implementing regulations), Industrial Relations Act 1967, Sabah Labour Ordinance (Chapter 67), Sarawak Labour Ordinance (Chapter 76), Private Employment Agencies Act 1981 and the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990.
MTUC had requested our government to carry out reforms of labour laws to ensure harmonious and a stable working environment in Malaysia long before the TPPA negotiations took place. Whether TPPA will be implemented or not, MTUC hopes that Malaysia will bring labour laws reforms.
We believed that with drastic reforms in our labour policies, there will be a tremendous change in the way employees and employers behave and interact with each other and with regulators. Furthermore MTUC also believe that strengthening our labour policies will be a game-changer that can be the enabler to propel Malaysia into a developed nation status, where workers’ rights are protected and upheld.
As series of engagement and discussion took place since last one year, we hope that the government will bring the amendments to the Parliament as planned next year, and subsequently implement it for the betterment of our workforce and country.
N. Gopal Kishnam
Address: Wisma MTUC,10-5, Jalan USJ 9/5T, 47620 Subang Jaya,Selangor | Tel: 03-80242953 | Fax: 03-80243225 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org