Loading...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

93 - Mansuhkan Sistem ‘Contractor for Labour’ Tarikbalik pindaan 2012 kepada Akta Kerja 1955.

Kenyataan Bersama – 3/5/2012 ((Versi Bahasa Malaysia)


Mansuhkan Sistem ‘Contractor for Labour’

Tarikbalik pindaan 2012 kepada Akta Kerja 1955.


Kami, 93 kesatuan sekerja, kumpulan masyarakat awam (civil society groups) dan pertubuhan yang bertandatangan di bawah membantah tindakan kerajaan Malaysia menghancurkan perhubungan pekerjaan(employment relationship) terus di antara prinsipal sebagai majikan, dan pekerja(workers) mereka selaku pekerja(employee) melalui pindaan terbaru Akta Kerja 1955.

Kongres Kesatuan Sekerja Malaysia (MTUC), yang mewakili bukan sahaja lebih kurang 800,000 pekerja yang menjadi ahli kesatuan, tetapi juga lebih daripada 12 juta pekerja di Malaysia, telah dengan keras dan secara konsisten menentang pindaan tersebut sejak mula dicadangkan dan dibentangkan di Parlimen melalui Bill No: D.R.25/2010 pada Julai 2010, di mana akhirnya kerajaan telah mengalah dan menarik balik cadangan pindaan tersebut. Tetapi pada Jun 2011, kerajaan telah membentang semula Rang Undang-Undang ini, hanya dengan sedikit perubahan, melalui Bill No: D.R.15/2011. MTUC telah membantah dengan kuat dan juga telah berpiket di Parlimen pada 3hb Oktober 2011, tetapi walaupun terdapat bantahan keras daripada berbagai pihak, Rang Undang-undang kontroversial ini telah diluluskan di Dewan Rakyat pada 6hb Oktober 2011, dan telah akhirnya mulai berkuatkuasa pada 1hb April 2012.

Kami mahu hanya menumpukan perhatian kepada satu daripada beberapa aspek pindaan baru tersebut yang kami membantah, di mana ini juga merupakan bantahan utama mengenai kemasukan peruntukan baru yang memperkenalkan ‘contractor for labour” dan kegiataannya.

Melalui pindaan ini, ‘contractor for labour’ akan dibenarkan menjadi pihak ketiga (atau orang tengah) di dalam perhubungan kerja dua-hala kini yang wajar di antara pihak tuan punya-prinsipal sesuatu perniagaan (selepas ini dirujuk sebagai ‘prinsipal’) dan pekerja-employee mereka.

LATAR BELAKANG

Akta Kerja 1955 yang diperkenalkan sebelum Kemerdekaan oleh pihak pentadbiran British secara berkesan telah menghapuskan ‘ buruh kerahan (indentured labour), buruh terikat (bonded labour) dan sistem “kanggani” di Malaya. (secara kolektif dikenali pada masa itu sebagai ‘sistem kontrak’). Akta itu juga telah mengwujudkan dua princip undang-undang yang masih hingga hari ini dianggap sangat penting. Ianya adalah jaminan pemilikan kerja (security of tenure) – yang memastikan kerja tetap, dan hak proprietari kepada kerja (proprietary right to the job) – dimana, antara lain, pembuangan kerja seseorang pekerja harus dilakukan hanya atas alasan atau sebab wajar ( just cause and excuse) dan melalui proses wajar (due process).

Hakikat kerja negara ini mulai berubah pada awal 1990an. Pada 1992, kerajaan telah membenaran pekerja migran untuk sektor pembinaan dan perladangan. Pada 2000, ini telah dilebarkan kepada sektor pembuatan (manufacturing) dan perkhidmatan (hotel dan restoran), dan pada tahun 2002, ianya dibenarkan untuk kesemua sektor.

Pada mulanya pekerja migrant telah diambil kerja (employed) secara terus oleh majikan principal tetapi ini mulai berubah pada 2005, apabila Jawatankuasa Kabinet tentang Pekerja Asing pada mesyuarat 5 Julai 2005 telah membenarkan pengambilan kerja pekerja asing melalui syarikat ‘outsourcing’ (kini dikenali sebagai ‘Contractor For Labour’ dalam Akta yang baru dipinda). Pengeluaran lessen/permit ‘outsourcing’ secara aneh dilakukan oleh Kementerian Dalam Negeri, bukan oleh Kementerian Sumber Manusia. Pada hari ini ada lebih kurang 277 syarikat ‘outsourcing’ tenaga kerja/pekerja yang didaftaraikan di negara(The Star, 23-Feb 2010).

Kewujudan syarikat ‘outsourcing’ ini telah mengakibatkan kembalinya ‘sistem kontrak’ yang lama. Ia membuka pintu yang menyebabkan serangan terus kepada asas hak pekerja (basic foundation of labour rights), melemahkan martabat buruh (dignity of labour), mengalakkan pembentukan dan operasi kerja terikat dan tidak berperikemanusian (perpetuating the establishment and operation of dehumanized and bonded labour). Realiti ini yang bermula dengan pekerja migrant, kini sudah merangkumi pekerja tempatan.

Syarikat ‘outsourcing’ kini mengambil pekerja tempatan dan pekerja migrant, setengah melalui kontrak jangkamasa terhad, dengan syarat yang biasanya adalah kurang baik (‘less favourable’) berbanding dengan pekerja-employee yang mempunyai perhubungan kerja terus dengan prinsipal.

Bilangan syarikat prinsipal mengunakan pekerja yang dibekalkan oleh syarikat ‘outsourcing’ semakin lama semakin bertambah. Syarikat prinsipal membayar syarikat ‘outsourcing’ jumlah tertentu untuk sebilangan pekerja yang dibekalkan, sama ada mereka pekerja tempatan atau pekerja migran. Secara berkesan, syarikat prinsipal dapat mengelak daripada tanggungjawab dan obligasi majikan untuk memastikan hak dan kebajikan pekerja-employee mereka. Cara ini juga menjimatkan syarikat prinsipal wang yang biasanya akan dibelanjakan untuk pekerja-employee mereka untuk kos perubatan, insuran, bonus, kenaikan gaji, faedah pencen, pengangkutan dan penginapan, awad perkhidmatan dan lain-lain faedah kerja. Ianya juga membenarkan mereka mengelak tanggungjawab statutori berkenaan Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja(KWSP/EPF) dan skema sekuriti social. Syarikat prinsipal juga terlepas daripada mematuhi obligasi dan penjagaan (safeguards) terkandung dalam undang-undang apabila pekerja diambil kerja atau dibuang kerja, yang termasuk pemeriksaan dalaman (‘domestic inquiries’) dan faedah-faedah rentikerja sentara dan penamatan (‘lay-off and termination benefits’). Kini, jika syarikat principal tidak mahu seseorang pekerja, mereka hanya perlu memberitahu syarikat ‘outsourcing’.

Untuk menukar tenaga kerja daripada pekerja tetap kepada pekerja kontrak jangka pendek, dan kini pekerja ‘outsource’, ramai principal telah mengurangi bilangan pekerja-employee tetap melalui ‘retrenchment’, skema perpisahan secara sukarela (VSS) atau cara yang lain, atau dengan terus memberhentikan sahaja kerja pekerja-employee mereka dan mengantikan mereka dengan pekerja yang dibekalkan oleh syarikat ‘outsourcing’

SEBAB PINDAAN AKTA

Syarikat outsourcing telah lama dibenarkan beroperasi di luar undang-undang dengan tidak ada apa-apa Akta yang meregulasi mereka. Walaupun mereka ini adalah pembekal tenaga kerja/pekerja, mereka tidak diwujudkan atau diwajibkan diregulasi oleh Akta Ajensi Pekerjaan Swasta 1981( Private Employment Agencies Act 1981), yang sememangnya akan memastikan bahawa pembekal tenaga kerja/buruh akan hanya membekal pekerja dan tidak sama sekali menjadi majikan pekerja yang dibekalkan.

Pindaan terbaru Akta Kerja adalah untuk memberikan syarikat ‘outsourcing’ ini pengesahtarafan statutori di bawah Akta Kerja, dan pada masa yang sama menghalalkan pekerjaan(employment) melalui syarikat outsourcing, yang selepas ini dikenali sebagai “contractor for labour”.

Satu sebab utama mewujudkan ‘contractor for labour’ dan pengenalan ‘labour outsourcing’ adalah untuk mengurangkan kapasiti(atau kuasa) pekerja dan kesatuan pekerja menuntut dan berunding untuk mendapatkan hak dan faedah lebih baik untuk pekerja. Memorandum MTUC kepada Menteri Sumber Manusia bertarikh Oktober, 7 2008 ada merujuk kepada satu interbiu dengan Datuk Ishak Mohamed, selaku Pengarah Penguatkuasaan Jabatan Imigrasi, yang telah diterbitkan dalam akhbar New Straits Times, Julai 20, 2008, di mana, antara lain beliau menyatakan, ‘…outsourcing adalah bagus kerana ia akan menarik pelabur asing secara terus (foreign direct investment.) Pelabur tidak mahukan kesatuan pekerja diwujudkan dalam tempat perniagaan (‘establishment’) mereka. Melalui outsourcing, ia akan menjadi sukar untuk kesatuan kerja ditubuhkan memandangkan syarikat outsourcing, dan bukan kilang yang akan menjadi majikan…” [‘…outsourcing is good as it will attract foreign direct investment. Investors do not want unions to be formed in their establishments. Through outsourcing, it would be difficult for unions to be formed as outsourcing company, and not the factory, would be the employer…’], di mana ini telah mendedahkan niat kerajaan.

KUMPULAN KELAS BAWAHAN PEKERJA

Penjanaan kelas bawahan pekerja, yang tidak di anggap pekerja-employee prinsipal, juga mengugat perhubungan kerja(employment relationship) sedia ada di antara prinsipal dan pekerja-employee mereka kini, termasuk juga perhubungan dengan kesatuan sekerja pekerja-employee ini. Pada hari ini klas bawahan pekerja ini, yang terdiri daripada pekerja tempatan dan migrant, berada di kebanyakkan tempat kerja, termasuk juga dalam syarikat yang ada hubungan dengan kerajaan (GLC), di mana di setengah kilang kini hampir 50% tenaga kerja kilang terdiri daripada pekerja daripada kelas bawahan ini. Kesatuan sekerja dilemahkan, dan kuasa berunding mereka untuk menuntut hak dan faedah lebih baik untuk pekerja semakin lama semakin terhakis akibat penambahan pekerja yang bukan pekerja-employee principal, serta juga akibat kehilangan jaminan pemilikan kerja (security of tenure) akibat kontrak kerja jangka pendek.

‘Contractor for Labour’ adalah sebenarnya mengenai ‘outsourcing of labour’ yang sangat berbeda daripada ‘outsourcing of work’. ‘Outsourcing of work’ adalah apabila prinsipal outsource kerja atau operasi khusus yang bukan merupakan operasi utama (‘core operation’) mereka, kepada syarikat lain yang melakukan kerja tersebut mengunakan pekerja mereka sendiri dibawah kawalan dan penyeliaan syarikat lain tersebut. Sebagai contoh, di dalam beberapa syarikat pembuatan (manufacturing), kerja membersih, turfing/mengendali laman, kantin dan perkhidmatan sekuriti adalah contoh kerja yang telah di-outsource. ‘Outsourcing of work’ saperti ini adalah wajar dan dibenarkan, di mana pekerja yang melakukan kerja ‘outsourced’ ini juga dirangkumi oleh Akta Kerja.

Bercanggah dengan prinsip bahawa pekerja yang melakukan ‘core operation’ harus merupakan pekerja-employee principal, pindaan kepada Akta kini membenarkan ‘contractor for labour’ membekalkan pekerja untuk melakukan kerja ‘core operation’ ini di bawah kawalan dan penyeliaan staf penyelia dan/atau pengurus prinsipal. ‘Contractor For Labour’ hanya mengambil bayaran untuk tenagakerja/pekerja yang dibekalkan dan seterusnya membahagikan sebahagian yang akan dibayar kepada pekerja yang dibekalkan tersebut, di mana biasanya jumlah yang dibayar kepada klas pekerja ini adalah kurang daripada jumlah yang dibayar kepada pekerja-employee prinsipal walaupun kerja yang dibuat adalah sama. Prinsip gaji sama untuk kerja sama( equal pay for equal work) jelas diiingkari.

Prinsipal, yang dianggap BUKAN majikan pekerja yang dibekalkan, melepaskan dirinya daripada semua liabiliti dan tanggungjawab majikan untuk pekerja yang dibekalkan oleh ‘contractor for labour’ di mana pekerja ini sebenarnya melakukan kerja untuk faedah prinsipal.

PERINTAH KERJA (PENGECUALIAN) 2012

Menteri Sumber Manusia, di dalam satu cubaan meredakan bantahan MTUC, kesatuan pekerja, pertubuhan masyarakat umum (civil society groups) dan pekerja telah mengeluarkan satu Perintah Pengecualian, yang berkuatkuasa mulai April 1 2012, yang antara lain, menyatakan:-

 “…Any person who enters into contract for service with a principal to supply employees required by the principal for the execution of the whole or any part of any work for the principal in any industry, establishment or undertakings other than the agriculture undertakings, is exempted from sections 31, 33A, 69 and 73 of the Act...”

“…Mana-mana orang yang membuat kontrak untuk perkhidmatan dengan principal untuk membekal pekerja yang diperlukan oleh principal bagi pelaksanaan keseluruhan atau mana-mana bahagian daripada kerja untuk principal dalam mana-mana industry, instituisi perniagaan atau perusahaan selain perusahaan pertanian dikecualikan daripada seksyen 31, 33A, 69 dan 73 Akta” [Perkataan ‘worker’ dan ‘employee’ apabila diterjemahkan dalam Bahasa Malaysia adalah perkataan sama, iaitu ‘pekerja’ di mana ini senang mengelirukan – lihat versi dalam Bahasa Inggeris]  


Tetapi, perkataan yang digunakan dalam perintah pengecualian tersebut, yang juga telah tidak merangkumi pindaan kepada seksyen 2, yang merupakan pindaan utama yang memberikan pengiktirafan undang-undang kepada ‘contractor for labour’ dan kegiatan mereka, hanya mengesahkan lagi ‘contractor for labour’ dan apa yang mereka lakukan kini. Seksyen yang dikecualikan hanya mengenai perkara sampingan saperti pendaftaran pekerja-employee apabila dibekalkan kepada prinsipal dan keutamaan keberhutangan (priority of debt). Perintah pengecualikan tersebut juga akan menghalang pekerja yang dibekalkan oleh ‘contractor for labour’ di dalam sector-sektor yang dikecualikan daripada membuat aduan dan menuntut keadilan.

Bantahan MTUC dan kumpulan lain terhadap pindaan tersebut tidak diredakan oleh Perintah Pengecualian tersebut, dan mereka terus membantah ‘contractor for labour’.

PROTES

Kami dengan keras membantah sistem ‘contractor of labour’. Semua pekerja yang bekerja di bawah kawalan dan penyeliaan prinsipal harus menjadi pekerja-employee prinsipal tersebut bukan mana-mana pihak ketiga. Tindakan kerajaan Malaysia adalah pengingkaran Artikel 8 Perlembagaan Malaysia. Pada tahun 1988, Malaysia telah meratifikasi Deklarasi ILO berkenaan Prinsip Asas dan Hak Semasa Bekerja (ILO Declarations on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work) tetapi pindaan ini adalah bercanggah dengan Deklarasi tersebut. Secara tambahan, tindakan Malaysia ini juga bertentangan dengan Agenda Kerja Decent ILO (ILO’s Decent Work Agenda), di mana Malaysia telah menerima.

International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), banyak kesatuan pekerja dan pertubuhan masyarakat umum (civil society groups), juga telah menetang dan masih kini menentang pindaan tersebut. Malaysian Bar juga baru-baru meluluskan satu Resolusi sebulat suara pada Mac 10 2012, antara lain, memanggil untuk dikekalkan perhubungan kerja(employment relationship) dua-hala, dan yang juga mengambil pendirian bahawa pembekal tenagakerja/pekerja atau ‘contractor for labour’ itu tidak harus dijadikan atau kekal menjadi majikan pekerja yang mereka membekalkan setelah pekerja itu telah dibekalkan, diterima dan mulai bekerja di tempat kerja prinsipal.

'Contractor for labour’ dan kegiatan mereka tidak harus dibenarkan di dalam mana-mana sektor, termasuk sektor perladangan dan pertanian.

TUNTUTAN

Maka, kami menuntut dimansuhkan semua pindaan kepada Akta Kerja 1955, secara khusus pindaan kepada seksyen 2, 31, 33A, 69 dan 73, yang dipinda oleh Employment (Amendment) Act 2012 [ACT A1419] yang berkenaan ‘contractor for labour’ dan kegiatan mereka, dan sementara menunggu pemansuhan semua pindaan tersebut, didesak bahawa ianya diberhentikan beroperasi mulai sekarang.

Kami memanggil untuk pemansuhan ‘contractor for labour’ dan semua kegiatan mereka, dan untuk semua pekerja yang kini telah dibekalan oleh pihak ketiga, iaitu pembekal tenagakerja/pekerja (‘contractor for labour’) yang masih bukan pekerja-employee prinsipal segera dijadikan pekerja-employee prinsipal tersebut dan diberikan faedah dan layanan sama sapertimana diberikan kepada pekerja-employee prinsipal yang lain tanpa diskriminasi, termasuk juga hak menubuhkan/menyertai kesatuan sekerja, dan hak mendapat semua hak dan faedah yang kini di dalam Perjanjian Koletif terpakai.

Kami juga menuntut untuk pemansuhan pekerjaan tidak menentu (precarious employment), dan untuk dikelakan hubungan kerja dua pihak yang adil di antara prinsipal dan pekerja-employee, dan untuk menghormati hak pekerja dan hak kesatuan sekerja.
Charles Hector
Pranom Somwong
Bruno Pereira

Untuk dan bagi pihak,

ALIRAN (Aliran Kesedaran Negara), Malaysia
Amalgamated Union of Employees in Government Clerical and Allied Services(AUEGCAS )
Amalgamated Union Employees Tenaga Nasional Berhad (AUETNB )
Anak Muda Sarawak (AMS)
Asian  Migrants Center (AMC)
Asia Monitor Resource Centre(AMRC)
Asia  Pacific  Forum on Women , Law and Development  (APWLD)
Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV)
Association for Community Development -ACD, Bangladesh
BASF Asia Pacific Network

BASF-PETRONAS Malaysia
Burma Campaign Malaysia (BCM)
Burma Partnership
Centre For Reflection And Action On Labour Rights (Cereal Guadalajara), Mexico
Center for Indonesian Migrant Workers-CIMW
Center for Migrant Advocacy, Philippines (CMA-Phils)
Centre des travailleurs et travailleurs immigrants / Immigrant Workers' Centre (Montréal, Québec)
Centre d'appui aux Philippines - Centre for Philippine Concerns (Montréal, Québec)
Christian Development Alternative (CDA)-Bangladesh
Clean Clothes Campaign

Communication Workers Union Victoria,Australia
Community Action Network (CAN), Malaysia
Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS), Burma
Dignity International
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER), Philippines
Electronic Industry Employees Union Western Region Peninsular Malaysia (EIEUWRPM)
FAIR (Italy)
Families Against Corporate Killers, UK
Federation Independent of Trade Union (GSBI) Indonesia
FSPMI ( Federasi Serikat Pekerja Metal Indonesia)

Future In Our Hands, Norway
Garment and Allied Workers Union, India
Hsinchu Catholic Diocese Migrants and Immigrants Service Center (HMISC), Taiwan
Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD),
International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF)
International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF)
Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT), Malaysia
Kesatuan Pekerja-Pekerja Polyplastics Asia Pacific (KPPAP)
Kesatuan Sekerja Industri Elektronik Wilayah Selatan
Kesatuan Sekerja NUTEAIW Isuzu Hicom (M) Sdn Bhd, Pekan, Pahang, Malaysia

Kesatuan Industri Elektronik Wilayah Timur Semenanjung Malaysia
Konfederasi Serikat Nasional (National Union Confederation)[KSN] , Indonesia.
Labour Behind the Label, UK
Lal Zenda Coal Mines Majdoor Union (LZCMMU), India
Lembaga Informasi Perburuhan Sedane-Sedane Labour Resource Centre Bogor-Indonesia
LHRLA - Lawyers for Human Rights & Legal Aid (Pakistan)
MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
Malayan Nurses Union(MNU)
MTUC (Malaysian Trade Union Congress)
Migrant CARE, Indonesia

Migrant Forum in Asia(MFA)
Migrante International
National Domestic Workers Movement- AP Region
National Hazards Campaign of UK
NLD-LA (National League for Democracy-Liberated Areas), Malaysia
National Union of Banking Employees (NUBE)
National Union of Petroleum & Chemicals Industrial Workers (NUPCIW), Malaysia
National Union of Transport Equipment and Allied Industries Workers (NUTEAIW), Malaysia
Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)
Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India (OEHNI)

Pakistan Rural Workers Social Welfare Organization (PRWSWO)
Paper & Paper Products Manufacturing Employees Union(Reg No 444), Malaysia
Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)
Perak Women for Women Society (PWW)
Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor (PSWS)
PINAY - The Filipino Women's Organization in Quebec
Public Services International, Malaysian Affiliates National Coordinating Committee
Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (KOMAS)
RightOnCanada.ca, Canada

Sarawak Medical Services Union (SMSU)
Solidarity of Cavite Workers, Philippines
Tenaga National  Berhad Junior Officers Union (TNBJOU)
Tenaganita, Malaysia
Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation (TCR)
Thai Labour Campaign, Thailand
The Live And Livelihood Foundation, Bangladesh
The Women's Caucus (Southeast Asia Women's Caucus on ASEAN)
Think Centre – Singapore
United Filipinos In Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)

United Students Against Sweatshops,  US
University of Malaya General Staff Union (UMGSU)
WARBE Development Foundation, Bangladesh
Women's Legal and Human Rights Bureau, Inc.(WLB),Philippines
WOREC Nepal
Workers Assistance Center, Inc., Philippines
Workers Hub For Change (WH4C)
Yayasan LINTAS NUSA Batam-Indonesia
Yokohama Action Research (Japan)
Clean Clothes Campaign, the Netherlands

Migrant Forum India
BRAC Safe Migration Facilitation Program, Bangladesh
IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh

93 Groups:- Abolish the ‘Contractor for Labour’ system Withdraw the 2012 amendments to Employment Act 1955.


Joint Statement – 3/5/2012

Abolish the ‘Contractor for Labour’ system

Withdraw the 2012 amendments to Employment Act 1955.

We, the undersigned 93 trade unions, civil society groups and organizations object to the actions of the government of Malaysia in destroying direct employment relationship between the principal, as employer, and their workers, as employees, with the latest amendments to the Employment Act 1955.
 
The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) , which not only represents the about 800,000 unionized workers but also the over 12 million workers in Malaysia,  have strongly and consistently opposed the proposed amendments since it was first tabled in Parliament vide Bill No: D.R.25/2010 in July 2010, which the government later withdrew. The government re-introduced the Bill with minor changes in June 2011 vide Bill No: D.R.15/2011. MTUC came out even more strongly and also picketed at the Parliament House on 3rd October 2011 and in spite of strong resistance from many quarters, including on the Dewan Rakyat  floor, the controversial Bill was passed on  6th October 201, did finally come into effect on April 1st 2012.

We would like to address just one of several aspects of the new amendments that is the main bone of contention, i.e. the introduction of the new provision for the definition of “contractor for labour”.

With the amendment, the contractor for labour will be the third party (or the middleman) who will come in between the now direct employment relationship between the owner-operator of trade or business (defined as the “principal”) and their worker-employee.

BACKGROUND

The Employment Act 1955 was introduced before independence (Merdeka) by the British Administration effectively abolishing indentured labour, bonded labour and the “kanggani” system in Malaya. (collectively then known as the “contract system”). The Act also did establish two very important principles of law which are considered sacrosanct to this day. They are, security of tenure – ensuring permanence of employment, and proprietary right to the job – where termination of worker, shall be only with just cause and excuse and by due process.

The employment scenario in the country began to change in the early 1990s. In 1992 the government allowed migrant workers for the construction and plantation sector. In 2000, it was extended to manufacturing and service (hotel and restaurants) sectors and in 2002, it was extended to all sectors.

Originally migrant workers were employed directly by the principal employer but this started to change in 2005, when the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers in its meeting on 5-July 2005 agreed to the recruitment of foreign workers through outsourcing companies (now known as ‘Contractor for Labour’ in the amended Act). The issuance of these outsourcing licenses was strangely done by the Ministry of Home Affairs, not the Ministry of Human Resources. There are today about 277 registered labour outsourcing companies in the country today. (The Star, 23-Feb 2010).  

This establishment of the outsourcing companies allowed for the re-emergence of the old ‘contract system’. It opened doors resulting in a direct assault on the basic foundation of labour rights, the undermining dignity of labour, perpetuating the establishment and operation of dehumanized and bonded labour. The practice, which started with migrant workers, was then extended to local workers.

These outsourcing companies recruited local workers and migrant workers, some on fix term contracts, with terms and conditions usually less favourable than that of workers directly employed by principals.

The incidence of principals using workers supplied by outsourcing companies is growing. The principal company pays the outsource company an agreed sum of money for the number of workers supplied, whether they be local or migrant workers. The principal company effectively is able to avoid the employer’s duty and obligation to ensure their workers’ rights and welfare are protected. This practice also saved principal company money that would have ordinarily been expended for workers like medical cost, insurance, bonus, wage increments, retirement benefits, transportation and accommodation, service awards, and several other benefits. It also allows them to evade statutory contributions to the Employees Provident Fund and for social security schemes. The principal company also evades all obligations and safeguards in law when workers are hired or terminated, including domestic inquiries and lay-off and termination benefits. If the principal wants to now get rid of workers, it now merely have to inform the outsource company.

To convert the workforce from permanent employees to short-term contract employees, and now outsourced workers, most principals either retrenched their workers, used “voluntary separation schemes” or other methods, or simply terminated their employees substituting them now with workers supplied by the outsourcing companies.

REASON FOR THE AMENDMENT

These outsourcing companies have been allowed to operate outside the law with no law regulating them. Even though they were manpower/labour suppliers, they were not created under and/or regulated by the Private Employment Agencies Act 1981, which would have also ensured these manpower/labour suppliers would only provide workers and not become employers of workers supplied.  

The recent amendment to the Employment Act is to give these outsourcing companies statutory recognition under the Employment Act, and at the same time institutionalize and legitimize employment through the outsourcing companies, which  now legally will be legally known as the “contractor for labour”.  

A primary reason for the creation of the ‘contractor for labour’ and the introduction of labour outsourcing is to stifle workers and trade unions capacity to demand and negotiate for better rights and benefits. The MTUC Memorandum to the HR Minister dated October 7, 2008 refers to an interview with Datuk Ishak Mohamed, the Enforcement Director of the Immigration Department that was published in New Straits Time, July 20, 2008, where he, amongst others, said, ‘…outsourcing is good as it will attract foreign direct investment. Investors do not want unions to be formed in their establishments. Through outsourcing, it would be difficult for unions to be formed as outsourcing company, and not the factory, would be the employer…’ is indicative of the intention of the government.

SUB-CLASS OF WORKERS.

The creation of this new sub-class of workers, who are not considered employees of the principal, also jeopardizes existing employment relationship between the principal and their current worker-employees, likewise the relationship with their trade unions. Today, these new sub-class of workers, made up of both local and migrant workers, are found in most workplaces, including even government-linked companies, whereby in some factories they currently make up about  50% of the total workforce. Trade unions are being weakened, and their bargaining powers for better rights and benefits for workers are slowly eroding by the increasing presence of workers who are not employees of the principal, and also by the loss of security of tenure created by short-term contracts.

‘Contractor for labour’ is actually outsourcing of labour which is very different from outsourcing of work. Outsourcing of work is when principal employer outsources some specified work or operations which are not their core operation, to another company who carries out the work for the principal using their own employees under their own control and supervision. For example, in several manufacturing companies, cleaning, turf/gardening, canteen and security services are examples of outsourced work. This outsourcing of work is legal, and the workers of those who are doing outsourced work are protected by the Employment Act.

Contrary to the principle that workers doing core operation work should be employees of the principal, this amendment to the Act now allows the ‘contractor for labour’ to supply workers to perform the core operation under the control and supervision of the principal’s supervisory staff and managers. The ‘contractor for labour’ merely collects the salary of the labour supplied and apportions a part to himself  and pays his workers, usually less than the workers who are under the direct employment of the principal, though they do the same work. The principle of equal pay for equal work is thus breached.

The principal, who is considered not the employer of the workers supplied, absolves himself of all liabilities and employer’s obligations with regard these workers supplied by ‘contractor for labour’ who are working for the principal’s benefit,

EMPLOYMENT (EXEMPTION) ORDER 2012

The MOHR Minister, in an attempt to placate the MTUC, trade unions, civil society groups and workers issued an exemption order, effective April 1st 2012, which, amongst others, stated:-

 “…Any person who enters into contract for service with a principal to supply employees required by the principal for the execution of the whole or any part of any work for the principal in any industry, establishment or undertakings other than the agriculture undertakings, is exempted from sections 31, 33A, 69 and 73 of the Act...”

However, the words used in the said exemption order, which by the way also did not include the amendment in section 2, which was the very amendment that gave statutory recognition to the ‘contractor for labour’ and its practices, only further affirms the contractor for labour and their practices. The exempted sections referred to in the said Order merely dealt with ancillary matters like registration of employees when supplied to principal and priority of debt. The exemption order also would deny access to justice for workers now being supplied by these ‘contractor for labour’ in all the exempted sectors.

MTUC and all groups that opposed the amendments were not appeased by this exemption order, and continue their objections to the ‘contractor for labour’.

PROTEST

We strongly object to the ‘contractor of labour’ system. All workers that work under the control and supervision of the principal must be the employees of the said principal not some third party. The Malaysian government’s action is in breach of article 8 of the Federal Constitution. In 1998, Malaysia also ratified the ILO Declarations on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work but this amendment is in  contravention of the said Declaration. Further, it also is in contravention of the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda which Malaysia has committed to.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), many trade unions and civil society groups, also opposed, and still oppose this amendment. The Malaysian Bar also recently passed unanimously a resolution on March 10th 2012, amongst others, calling for the maintenance of existing 2-party employment relationships, and also that labour suppliers and/or contractors of labour should never be or continue to be employers of workers after they are supplied, accepted and start working at the workplaces of principals.

The contractor for labour and their practices should not be allowed in any sectors including the plantation and agricultural sector.

DEMAND

We, therefore, demand for the repeal of all amendments to the Employment Act 1955, in particular the amendments to section 2, 31, 33A, 69, 73 brought about by Employment (Amendment) Act 2012 [ACT A1419] relating to the ‘contractor for labour’ and their practices,  and pending repeal for an immediate stopping operation of the said amendments.

We call for the abolition of the contractor for labour and their practices and that all workers, currently supplied by these 3rd party manpower/labour suppliers (contractor for labour) who are still not direct employees of the principal employer be immediately made employees of the said principal and be accorded same benefits and treatment as accorded to all other employees without discrimination, including the right to form/join trade unions or afford protection and entitlement to the benefits accorded through their respective Collective Agreements.

We call for the abolition of precarious employment, and for retention of a just 2-party employment relationship between principals and workers, and for the respect of worker and trade union rights.

Charles Hector
Pranom Somwong
Bruno Pereira

For and on behalf,

ALIRAN (Aliran Kesedaran Negara), Malaysia
Amalgamated Union of Employees in Government Clerical and Allied Services(AUEGCAS )
Amalgamated Union Employees Tenaga Nasional Berhad (AUETNB )
Anak Muda Sarawak (AMS)
Asian  Migrants Center (AMC)
Asia Monitor Resource Centre(AMRC)
Asia  Pacific  Forum on Women , Law and Development  (APWLD)
Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV)
Association for Community Development -ACD, Bangladesh
BASF Asia Pacific Network

BASF-PETRONAS Malaysia
Burma Campaign Malaysia (BCM)
Burma Partnership
Centre For Reflection And Action On Labour Rights (Cereal Guadalajara), Mexico
Center for Indonesian Migrant Workers-CIMW
Center for Migrant Advocacy, Philippines (CMA-Phils)
Centre des travailleurs et travailleurs immigrants / Immigrant Workers' Centre (Montréal, Québec)
Centre d'appui aux Philippines - Centre for Philippine Concerns (Montréal, Québec)
Christian Development Alternative (CDA)-Bangladesh
Clean Clothes Campaign

Communication Workers Union Victoria,Australia
Community Action Network (CAN), Malaysia
Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS), Burma
Dignity International
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER), Philippines
Electronic Industry Employees Union Western Region Peninsular Malaysia (EIEUWRPM)
FAIR (Italy)
Families Against Corporate Killers, UK
Federation Independent of Trade Union (GSBI) Indonesia
FSPMI ( Federasi Serikat Pekerja Metal Indonesia)

Future In Our Hands, Norway
Garment and Allied Workers Union, India
Hsinchu Catholic Diocese Migrants and Immigrants Service Center (HMISC), Taiwan
Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD),
International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF)
International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF)
Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT), Malaysia
Kesatuan Pekerja-Pekerja Polyplastics Asia Pacific (KPPAP)
Kesatuan Sekerja Industri Elektronik Wilayah Selatan
Kesatuan Sekerja NUTEAIW Isuzu Hicom (M) Sdn Bhd, Pekan, Pahang, Malaysia

Kesatuan Industri Elektronik Wilayah Timur Semenanjung Malaysia
Konfederasi Serikat Nasional (National Union Confederation)[KSN] , Indonesia.
Labour Behind the Label, UK
Lal Zenda Coal Mines Majdoor Union (LZCMMU), India
Lembaga Informasi Perburuhan Sedane-Sedane Labour Resource Centre Bogor-Indonesia
LHRLA - Lawyers for Human Rights & Legal Aid (Pakistan)
MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
Malayan Nurses Union(MNU)
MTUC (Malaysian Trade Union Congress)
Migrant CARE, Indonesia

Migrant Forum in Asia(MFA)
Migrante International
National Domestic Workers Movement- AP Region
National Hazards Campaign of UK
NLD-LA (National League for Democracy-Liberated Areas), Malaysia
National Union of Banking Employees (NUBE)
National Union of Petroleum & Chemicals Industrial Workers (NUPCIW), Malaysia
National Union of Transport Equipment and Allied Industries Workers (NUTEAIW), Malaysia
Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)
Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India (OEHNI)

Pakistan Rural Workers Social Welfare Organization (PRWSWO)
Paper & Paper Products Manufacturing Employees Union(Reg No 444), Malaysia
Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)
Perak Women for Women Society (PWW)
Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor (PSWS)
PINAY - The Filipino Women's Organization in Quebec
Public Services International, Malaysian Affiliates National Coordinating Committee
Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (KOMAS)
RightOnCanada.ca, Canada

Sarawak Medical Services Union (SMSU)
Solidarity of Cavite Workers, Philippines
Tenaga National  Berhad Junior Officers Union (TNBJOU)
Tenaganita, Malaysia
Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation (TCR)
Thai Labour Campaign, Thailand
The Live And Livelihood Foundation, Bangladesh
The Women's Caucus (Southeast Asia Women's Caucus on ASEAN)
Think Centre – Singapore
United Filipinos In Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)

United Students Against Sweatshops,  US
University of Malaya General Staff Union (UMGSU)
WARBE Development Foundation, Bangladesh
Women's Legal and Human Rights Bureau, Inc.(WLB),Philippines
WOREC Nepal
Workers Assistance Center, Inc., Philippines
Workers Hub For Change (WH4C)
Yayasan LINTAS NUSA Batam-Indonesia
Yokohama Action Research (Japan)
Clean Clothes Campaign, the Netherlands
Migrant Forum India
BRAC Safe Migration Facilitation Program, Bangladesh
IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh