For any worker, their pay is very important, that is how they provide for the livelihood of themselves and their families. When workers are denied their pay, it causes much suffering and great injustice.
Now, for a migrant worker in Malaysia, the situation is worse. Unlike a local worker, who will be able to lodge a complaint against the employer at the Human Resources Department(Labour Department), and thereby get justice, the migrant worker is more likely not able to succeed in getting justice this way.
WHY? When a migrant worker comes to Malaysia, his 'work permit/pass' allows him to just work for ONE employer. Even if the employer is a bad employer, a violator of rights...denies the worker his pay or pays him less, the migrant worker may have to endure this...
Now, when the migrant worker complaints to the relevant authorities, the response of the employer is to simply terminate the migrant worker and cause the cancellation of the 'work permit/pass'. Without the work permit/pass, the migrant worker will have to leave Malaysia - he/she can no longer stay and work in Malaysia.
Now, most avenues of justice and/or complaints require the continued presence of the worker at subsequent meetings and/or proceedings, and the absence of the affected worker would result in the conclusion being drawn that the 'victimized worker is no longer interested in pursuing justice' and that would the end of it. Justice will not be done.
Even if the migrant worker elects to remain in Malaysia, the migrant worker is an undocumented migrant - with no right to remain in Malaysia. He/she can be arrested by the police and/or immigration enforcement officers, and charged in court, convicted, sentenced (whereby in Malaysia, now this also means whipping/caning), and then deported. Why the worker is still in Malaysia is irrelevant to these law enforcement officers.
The migrant worker, if he wants to remain in Malaysia after his work permit/pass expires, can apply to the Immigration Department for a 'special pass' which allows for a one month stay. But getting this 'special pass' is not easy, and it cost about RM100-00 for each 1-month special pass. Now, access to justice proceedings for workers take a long time, even years... And, a worker on a 'special pass' cannot work and earn an income during this period. So, these factors, itself makes it almost impossible for migrant workers to access justice.
Hence, what choice do the migrant worker in Malaysia really have when his rights are violated by the employer.
Note, that also when the employer hold the migrant workers passport and work permit/pass, it also makes it even more difficult for the migrant workers. It is most dangerous to be wondering around without your legal identification papers... Some migrant workers, when suddenly terminated, have also been hurriedly transported to the nearest airport, and put on a flight back home... Past attempts of even Malaysian Human Rights Commission(SUHAKAM) to stop these 'speedy sending back of migrant workers', have been unsuccessful.
The local worker can easily escape exploitation by simply moving on to find another job - not so for the migrant worker.
The local worker, whilst working and earning with another employer, can easily continue to get justice in the available avenues of justice in Malaysia - not so for the migrant workers.
Further, this Malaysian government has been increasing financial obligations of migrant workers, including those who are already here in Malaysia under an agreement to work for 3-5 years. For example, in January 2013, the Malaysian government decided that migrant workers themselves should be paying the migrant worker LEVY - not the employer, and this meant paying out more than RM100 for workers in the manufacturing sector, so a Minimum Wage migrant worker who receives RM900, now finds that he will now only be taking home less than RM800. See also -82 Groups - MINIMUM WAGES FOR ALL WORKERS, INCLUDING MIGRANT WORKERS - No to Wage Deduction to recover Levy Payable By Employers -
Now, with the devaluation of the Malaysian ringgit in reference to the currency of the home country of migrant workers, it means that the money sent home is so much lesser - Dropping Ringgit - Migrant workers worst affected now, but soon all in Malaysia may experience the same?
"For instance, employees from Bangladesh used to make 44 taka for every RM1, but now it is about 17 taka. The drop is very drastic, more than 40%."Even the ringgit to the Indonesian rupiah has seen a drop in value by 20%," (Malaysian Insider, 5/2/2016)
Hence, when the migrant worker, in these difficult times, is not paid by the employer - it is not unforeseeable that some may even resort to killing themselves...
Myanmar worker attempts suicide after denied salary
The victim, who was believed to have been working at a seafood restaurant in Paramount Garden here for several months, had used a glass shard to slash his neck.
Petaling Jaya OCPD Asst Comm Mohd Zani Che Din said the man was found near a gym at a shopping mall near Mutiara Damansara at about 7.30pm on Tuesday night.
He was identified as Kyaw Lin Htike from Mudon, Myanmar.
"He was attended by a doctor who happened to be in the area at the time of incident. Investigations revealed that he was frustrated when he was denied his pay," said Mohd Zani.
Myanmar denied wages cuts his own throat
Kyaw Lin Htike, 24, of Mudon, Myanmar, was found in a mall near Mutiara Damansara at 7.30pm, and treated by a doctor who was passing by.
It is believed Kyaw had attempted to kill himself by slashing at his neck with a glass shard. He is said to have worked in a seafood restaurant in Paramount Garden for several months.
Petaling Jaya police chief Mohd Zani Che Din said it appeared Kyaw became "frustrated when he was denied his pay". Kyaw is currently recovering in Sungai Buloh Hospital. – February 10, 2016, Malaysian Insider.
Petaling Jaya: Lelaki warga Myanmar bertindak mengelar lehernya menggunakan serpihan kaca dipercayai selepas kecewa dengan majikannya yang tidak mahu membayar gaji di Mutiara Damansara, di sini, kira-kira 7.30 malam tadi.
Ketua Polis Daerah Petaling Jaya, Asisten Komisioner Mohd Zani Che Din berkata, lelaki berusia 28 tahun terbabit ditemui oleh orang ramai dalam keadaan terbaring dan berlumuran darah berdekatan pusat beli-belah di sini.
Katanya, siasatan mendapati mangsa adalah pekerja di restoran makanan laut di daerah berkenaan.
"Mangsa dipercayai cuba bunuh diri selepas tidak dibayar gaji. Namun, dia berjaya diselamatkan dengan bantuan awal daripada doktor wanita yang kebetulan berada di kawasan berkenaan.
"Mangsa kemudiannya dikejarkan ke hospital berdekatan dan dilaporkan stabil.
"Kes disiasat mengikut Seksyen 302 Kanun Keseksaan," katanya.
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