Sunday, February 25, 2007

Radzi: No clash over Foreign Workers Bill (NST)

Radzi: No clash over Foreign Workers Bill

Sunday, 25 February 2007, 07:46am

Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad
by V. Vasudevan

There is no clash between the Home Affairs and Human Resources ministries over the Foreign Workers Bill.

"Don’t use the word clash. There is nothing wrong with what we are proposing," said Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad yesterday.

"We are not taking away power from anyone. We are reducing red tape as directed by the prime minister."

He was responding to Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn’s unhappiness over the proposed legislation.

Radzi stressed that the Bill was a proposal and had yet to be accepted by the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers, which is to meet on March 2. "It could be rejected."

Radzi said his ministry has been meeting with the Human Resources Ministry to work on the details of the Bill, which was meant to streamline the procedures for foreign workers.

Radzi said there were currently two million foreign workers in the country.

Any confusion over the Bill and its powers could be sorted out at the Cabinet Committee meeting on March 2, he said.

Fong had said there were more than enough labour laws to govern local and foreign workers in the country, and there was no need for more legislation.

There are 22 Acts that govern and protect local and foreign workers.

"We cannot have separate laws for foreign workers," Fong had said.

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress came out in support of Fong and said migrant workers should fall under the Human Resources Ministry.

MTUC secretary-general G. Rajasekaran said the union received hundreds of complaints from migrant workers on non-payment of wages, breach of contract and violation of provisions of the Employment Act relating to overtime, working hours, paid sick leave, annual leave and public holidays.

Radzi said yesterday the proposed Bill sought to address some of these complaints.

The ministry is also proposing to put in place a mechanism, which will allow mediation between the disputing parties.

"If they can’t, then they can go to the Industrial Relations Department."

He said the proposed Bill was also meant to ensure employers take responsibility for their workers.

"Each employer must be responsible for his worker and provide proper accommodation.

"It is not to restrict workers, but to ensure that they are properly housed."

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