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?
BY RAHMAH GHAZALI
PUTRAJAYA: Hundreds of private sector workers staged a gathering in front of the Prime Minister’s Office here Tuesday to pressure the Government into addressing their ongoing problems.
Claiming that their concerns have yet to be addressed despite numerous demands, the Coalition of Workers and Unions said the Government should not ignore their plight.
Its representative Mohd Roszeli Majid said workers in the private sector want their rights returned to them and hope this would be addressed in the upcoming national Budget.
“We’re not asking for much. We are not asking for a lot of money. We are asking for them to return our rights.
“We were grateful when the Government announced the minimum wage, but why was it not the same for the workers in Sabah and Sarawak?” he said in his speech.
The rights, said the group, were included in a 10-point memorandum that was later submitted to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak through one of his aides.
Among the grouses are labour laws and practises being introduced without consulting workers’ unions; delays in recognition of unions; retrenchments and termination by government-linked companies; loss of income; outsourcing and displacement of jobs; victimisation of female workers; and foreign labour problems.
Speaking at a press conference later, National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) president Ismail Nasaruddin said the coalition hoped the Prime Minister will relook and review the memorandums the union had submitted through the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC).
“Many workers in various industries have lost their jobs and they are not able to find jobs easily. There are problems in terms of retrenchment, especially in Malaysia Airlines (MAS),” he said.
Meanwhile, Selangor MTUC division chairman Wan Noorulazhar Mohd Hanafiah said there are also problems with companies that are against the setting up of unions.
“They even disallow staff members from joining a union,” he said.
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