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?
Kota Kinabalu: The Malaysian government intends to stipulate that only foreign workers who have worked continuously in Malaysia for at least three years would be eligible for leadership role in trade unions under the rules of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
As for strikes which is also provided for under Malaysian laws, the government intends to allow such industrial action under the TPPA rules if the majority of the union members are supporting it, but not when only a handful of leaders wanted and called for a strike without reasonable cause.
This was disclosed by Datuk J Jayasiri, Deputy Chief Secretary and TPPA chief negotiator of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti), at the auditorium of the Intan Campus here.
Jayasiri dismissed notions that the TPPA labour rules were imposed by western countries like the United States or Australia where unionism is strong and powerful.
He explained that the labour rules to be adhered to are actually stipulated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which Malaysia is a member and signatory.
“Parties in the TPPA are required to adopt the four rights as stated in the ILO Declaration 1998 and maintain them in their domestic statutes, regulations and practices.
“These rights are the freedom of association (to form a union, for example) and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour; abolition of child labour; and elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation,” Jayasiri said.
He warned that if member countries are caught, for example, using slave labour or such condition, like environment to manufacture a type of goods for export, then it would be actionable under TPP rules.
Last year, Daily Express reported that the MTUC was unhappy with the TPPA rules where foreigners can lead unions and other grouses.
Jayasiri said with the growth of Malaysia’s SMEs and the influx of MNCs, workers are expected to benefit from more employment opportunities with better promotional prospects and opportunities including higher wages when the TPPA becomes a success in future.
The TPPA does not prevent labour mobility, he said.
Source: Daily Express
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