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?
Choong Boon Siew
PETALING JAYA: Employers should prioritise the health of their staff in the light of the ongoing haze, and give due consideration to those seriously affected by it.
Speaking to theSun, Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) president Mohd Khalid Atan said he had received numerous complaints from workers of coughing, eye and throat irritations.
“Those working outdoor such as in the construction sector bear the brunt. In some instances, they are only provided with simple face-masks of inadequate quality, and no eye gear,” he said.
Khalid observed that more will be affected if employers and the authorities do not take stock of the situation.
“Government agencies can perhaps provide medical treatment for haze-affected workers, instead of just issuing public advice,” he said.
He insisted that employers not shy away from providing their workers with sufficient haze protection, for fiscal reasons.
“Health issues trump all financial considerations, even if it means having to spend. After all, healthy workers have higher productivity; its common sense,” he said.
Khalid also advised employers to understand the plight of employees who call in sick due to the haze.
“Employers can supply free rehydration drinks or fruits to employees during working hours to reduce the impact of the haze,” he said.
He also urged workers to stay indoors as much as they can.
“Have your meals indoors if possible. Do not remain outside for too long. Those with children should prevent them from playing outdoors whilst the haze persists,” he said.
Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said hard data of the haze’s impact on the labour force is still unavailable.
“We would need to do a survey to obtain those facts. But I can confirm that the recent school closures adversely affected companies’ operations and productivity,” he said.
He said that the closures required some parents to be with their children. “They affected employees, many of whom had to take unplanned leave,” said Shamsuddin.
Source: the Sun daily
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