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?
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 (Bernama) — The 3,000 Syrian refugees, preferably professional and semi-skilled, which Malaysia will accept over the next three years are eligible to receive minimum wages upon selection to work in this country.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot said this was based on the Convention of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), namely the Convention 100 – Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100), which Malaysia had ratified way back in 1998.
“Based on that convention, Malaysia cannot discriminate them (Syrian refugees), especially in terms of salaries between foreign and local workers.
He was speaking to reporters after opening the 7th Regional Tripartite Social Dialogues For Growth, Employment And Sound Industrial Relations In The Services Sectors in ASEAN: “Managing Labour Market In An Integrated ASEAN here Monday.
On Oct 2, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, while addressing the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly said Malaysia would open its doors to 3,000 Syrian migrants to help alleviate the refugee crisis.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi later said Malaysia would give preference to professional and semi-skilled people in accepting the Syrian refugees.
Meanwhile, in his opening speech at the dialogue, Riot said the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by year-end would certainly impact the region’s labour market.
He said, based on a study conducted by ILO and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), it was suggested that ASEAN economic integration, if not managed properly, might worsen the economic inequalities.
Riot also pointed out that while AEC would definitely further stimulate demand for increased flexibility in the labour market, it might pose risks to social protection for workers if not properly regulated.
Therefore, the minister said, all ASEAN members must be prepared for the impact by building up effective social protection system for workers.
Riot said effective social protection system, including dynamic labour laws must be put in place to ensure adaptability of employers and employees.
On Malaysia’s part, he pointed out to the delegates that the country had sought ways to improve the state of its labour protection system, including establishment of the National Wages Consultative Council (NWCC) in 2011.
He said NWCC’s main function was to recommend the rates of minimum wages, coverage and implementation to the government, which subsequently resulted in the establishment of the Minimum Wages Order in 2012, while the full implementation of the policy commenced last year.
Besides that, he added, Malaysia had also explored the feasibility of introducing an employment insurance system to provide financial and training assistance to retrenched workers to facilitate their re-employment.
Touching further on the dialogue, Riot hoped they would strengthen the network, collaborate and work in partnership to manage the labour market, complement economic and trade policies, as well as grow the economy nationally and collectively at the ASEAN level.
The two-day tripartite dialogue, organised by the ASEAN Services Employees Trade Union Council is an initiative aimed at advancing social dialogue in ASEAN to ensure the inclusion of the Decent Work Agenda to the development of the ASEAN Community.
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