Saturday, February 17, 2007

Let HR ministry deal with foreign workers (Malaysiakini)

Let HR ministry deal with foreign workers
Feb 16, 07 1:01pm

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has expressed preference for the Human Resources Ministry over the Home Ministry in dealing with foreign workers.

In a statement, MTUC secretary-general G Rajasekaran said the Human Resources Ministry should have a bigger say in this matter like verifying employers application and their needs.

“We believe the Human Resources Ministry has reliable statistics on manpower needs and availability of Malaysian workers,” he added.

Rajasekaran was responding to a statement made by Home Minister Radzi Sheikh Ahmad that some two million foreign workers in the country will be supervised and managed by the Home Ministry when the Foreign Workers Bill is passed.

Set to be tabled for first reading at the Dewan Rakyat next month, the Bill will allow the ministry to take over some of the responsibilities of the Human Resources and Tourism Ministries.

“We manage the workers via the issuance of work permits and make sure employers pay the levy and insurance. If the employers do not pay up, we don’t issue the permits.

“We also have the resources to control two million foreign workers, unlike the other two ministries,” Radzi was quoted as saying in a news report.

Currently, the hiring of foreign workers, including domestic helpers, is under the purview of the Human Resources Ministry, although work permits are issued by the Home Ministry.

Not approachable

Rajasekaran pointed out that the Home Ministry is not as approachable compared to the Human Resources Ministry and Labour Department.

“They don’t seem to have any sympathy to the problems faced by migrant workers,” he said

Such problems that fall under the Labour Department and Human Resources Ministry include the non-payment of wages and breach of contract by paying less than the contracted wages.

Also, provisions in the Employment Act relating to overtime, working hours, paid sick leave, annual lave and public holidays are also violated.

He said the Immigration Department has a hand in making life for migrants more difficult than it already is.

“We get cases of workers not paid wages for six months to one year and when they demand their payment, employer’s terminate them and notify the Immigration Department.

“(The department) promptly cancels their work permit and declare them as illegal. Immigration officers turn a deaf ear to their complaints on wages owed to them,” he alleged.

Rajasekaran also noted that the Home Ministry contradicted the condition set by the Human Resources Ministry.

According to him, the Human Resources Ministry has repeatedly stated that migrant workers are allowed to join trade unions but the Home Ministry banned migrants from joining unions as a condition on the work permit.

“This has caused embarrassment to Malaysia at international meetings at the International Labour Organisation and others,” he added.

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