Monday, August 06, 2012

National Worker Protection Policy, Public Transport Policy - not 'Car Policy'

Automotive policy - for car owners - well, PKR and Pakatan can have a new policy - but really there are so many other matters that need to be priority.... and, one of this is a new Worker Policy (or Labour Policy). Elements of this new labour policy should include...

1 -  Permanent Regular Employment until retirement age for all workers. The trend of employing workers on short-term employment contracts must end, or severely restrained. When the work is part of the core operations, perennial in nature (or on-going work),etc - workers employed must be regular workers - not short-term contract workers, not workers of sub-contractors, not workers of 'contractors for labour'.... Employment security is a priority and a basic right for all workers - and it is essential for the well-being and welfare of workers in their family. What use talking about increased retirement age, better maternity benefits, etc...when workers employed on the basis of short-fixed term contracts can so easily be denied all these rights..

In India, The Contract Labour (Regulation And Abolition) Act, 1970, in brief, disallows principals from using 'short-term contract employees or workers' when:- (a) The work is perennial and must go on from day to day; (b) The work is incidental to and necessary for the work of the factory; (c) The work is sufficient to employ considerable number of whole time workmen; (d)  The work is being done in most concerns through regular workmen..." F

The said Act stipulates that the principal/owner of the workplace shall be the Principal Employer, and it also places obligations on the Principal. For example, “The contractor is required to pay wages and a duty is cast on him to ensure disbursement of wages in the presence of the authorized representative of the Principal Employer...”. As a matter of interest, there is a provision in that Act that states that,  “The contract labour who performs same or similar kind of work as regular workmen, will be entitled to the same wages and service conditions as regular workmen.”

2 - All workers must be employees of the principal/owner of the establishment that they work in. The trend of allowing principals/owners using workers, not their employees, but employees of 'contractors for labour' must end. The first step if for the repeal of the recent amendments to the Employment Act 1955 which allows the 'contractor for labour' and their practices.

3 - Minimum wages - All workers shall be entitled to minimum wages. The BN's denial of minimum wages to workers on probation (for up to 6 months) must be ended immediately. Workers on probation also need to live a decent life and there is no justification that they be denied minimum wages.... Remember, that with current employment practices in Malaysia, these probation workers unlike in the past are not just the young workers who enter the employment market after school for their first job....

4 - Probation - This is usually the period provided to employers to determine the suitability of new employees before they are confirmed as permanent regular employees - and this period need to be limited to no longer than three(3) months maximum. 3 months is long enough for any employer to access the performance and suitability of any worker. Today, some employers abuse this ...and sometime persons can be still on probation after 1 year...2 years... and this is really unfair. Their status as workers on probation also affects their other rights as workers - and this is so wrong. 

5 - Trade Unions - This is a fundamental right to ensure justice for workers - it allows workers to be united and engage with their employer on a more equal footing to negotiate better rights and working conditions BUT under the BN it is so difficult for unions to be formed.... New policy should be that any approval or recognition process must be completed not later than 30 days, for now the delay in the process many a time is caused unnecessarily by the registration/recognition process. Every workplace shall be entitled to form a trade union therein...Maybe on application, there should be immediate registration and recognition...

6 - Protection of worker rights must be a priority and violations by employers must be penalized. Now if employer does not pay overtime for 5 days, and the worker complains and he is successful be it after mediation of trial - all that the employer is required to do is pay the worker what he should have paid in the first place. The worker will also not get any compensation for cost and time wasted in pursuing the claim. This will certainly not deter employers from violating worker rights...And the BN government is happy with this - reflective of its stance of being pro-employer and anti-worker. Changes needed (1) If the worker is successful in his/her claim the errant employer shall be liable to pay three(3) times what they should have originally paid the worker PLUS also compensate the worker for transport and wages most in pursuing the claim. (2) The employer should also be liable to a FINE of not less than RM10,000 and not more than RM50,000, and the amount and the nature of the violation shall be a consideration in the determination of the fine. We need deterrent sentences to protect workers...and their families, and deter employers from violating worker rights.

7 - The equality guaranteed by the Federal Constitutions shall also apply to all workers, including those in the private sector. Now, it only applies to workers in the public sector. Today Syarikat XXY can easily discriminate workers on the basis on gender - pay women workers less than male workers, require women workers to retire at 50 while men workers can retire at 55... There is still discrimination in Malaysia when it comes to workers in the private sector - and this needs to end. 

8 - Establish a National Retrenchment Fund....maybe even a National Unemployment Fund that will be able workers who have been retrenched...and who cannot find new jobs. Many workers, when companies cease operations, suddenly find themselves being deprived of overdue wages, benefits...even termination and lay-off benefits to which they are entitled to in Malaysian law. MTUC has been suggesting this for so many years and this BN-government is just not interested in workers of Malaysia.

- well, a National Workers Policy... a National Labour Policy is what we really want and we hope that PKR (or better still Pakatan Rakyat) will tell us what their policy is .... Silence may lead to many believing that PR's policy like that of the BN may end up being a pro-employer anti-worker policy...

Alas - they are talking about 'car-policies'..... and, even then, should they not be talking about a more efficient public transport policy so that we Malaysians are not forced to buy a car or a motor-bike at all. It is the failure of BN government having a comprehensive public transport policy... that has forced many Malaysians to have to buy cars and motor-bikes just to get to work and anywhere in time... 

And, PKR did a lot of work on their car policy ---- if only, they spend more time presenting us with a National Worker Policy, National Public Transport Policy, National Social Protection Policy,.... hello - do think more about the poor, the low and middle income earners, the ordinary people... 

PKR: Our car policy will benefit existing owners
  • Aidila Razak
  • 2:50PM Aug 2, 2012
PKR's proposed automotive policy will also be beneficial to car owners still servicing their vehicle loans, as they can upgrade to a better vehicle while paying the same amount in installments.
However, PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli said existing car owners can only benefit from the proposed policy if they upgrade to a new car.

NONEThis is because the proposed automotive policy would cause a depression in the second hand car market once excise duties are removed.

To illustrate how the scheme may be beneficial, Rafizi uses the example of a person paying RM600 in installments and still owes a bank RM40,000 for a car.

Once excise duties are removed, the hypothetical car value would  drop to RM25,000 and thus, by selling it in the second hand market, the owner will suffer a loss of RM15,000.

However, if the owner trades in his vehicle and upgrades to a better vehicle, lower market prices would mean that he can purchase a much better one for RM40,000 for the same monthly installment of RM600.

"So rather than paying RM600 a month for a Proton Saga, I'd rather pay RM600 for a Honda," he told Malaysiakini after a press conference to detail the nuts and bolts of the proposed automotive policy.

azlanThe second hand cars will later be exported, said PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim at a press conference earlier.

"The export of second hand cars to new markets is expected to create new income for the government," he said.

To encourage a second-hand export industry, Anwar said that incentives will be given to those who set up reconditioning and upgrading facilities for used cars for export purposes.

Plugging RM8 bil revenue loss
 Besides the second hand export market, he said loss of RM8 bil a year in revenue from the scrapping of the excise tax can be recouped through:

  • Implementing a three tier bidding system for approved permits to import cars, expected to return RM2 to 3 billion a year until the 2015 deadline;
  • A rise in sales and income tax of about RM1 to RM1.5 billion a year, as consumers now have RM8 bil more in their pockets through cheaper car prices; and,
  • Reduction in ad hoc expenditure and allocation for the Prime Minister's Department.
Anwar also gave the assurance that the proposed policy will not render automotive sector workers jobless.

“The policy does not guarantee advantage for any quarter. This is important to ensure that the job opportunities for the sector grow through the entrance of more international automotive firms,” he said.

He added that local car manufacturers will ,however, be offered a special incentive to upgrade the quality of the cars in order to compete with the international carmakers locally and abroad. 

police parliament blockade traffic jams in city area 140708 02He added that the policy also considers the need for a comprehensive public transport, with the focus on making Malaysia the most public transport friendly nation in south east asia in 10 years.

This includes restructuring Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd and the rail systems in the long run, while upgrading the bus systems in the short run.

He said that Pakatan does not intend to review all existing agreements on transport, including the MRT and LRT, unless found to not be in the public interest.

Incentives will also be accorded  companies which manufacture environmentally friendly vehicles in Malaysia.

Anwar also explained that this is PKR's policy to be presented to its Pakatan partners. - Malaysiakini, 2/8/2012, PKR: Our car policy will benefit existing owners

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