Thursday, April 02, 2020

Workers groups call for law defining Covid-19 as occupational disease(Malaysiakini)

**See full Joint Statement of now 51 groups at Make COVID-19 an Occupational Disease under Law to ensure social protection for all workers and their families (51 Groups)

* Thank you Malaysiakini


Workers groups call for law defining Covid-19 as occupational disease

Modified 12:13 pm

CORONAVIRUS | A group of 47 activist organisations and trade unions have urged the government to make Covid-19 an occupational disease by law.

"By doing so, workers who are infected by Covid-19 at their workplace, even during this period, will become entitled to social protection accorded by social security schemes and laws," said the group which included the MTUC, Nufam and NUBE.

"Those who die due to contracting Covid-19 at the workplace, will also be easily entitled to compensations, and their spouses/children/elderly parents will also become entitled to survivor benefits including pensions," said the group.

"Employers have a duty to ensure a safe working environment, and should also be required to ensure that the workplace is safe from Covid-19 and/or any other dangerous communicable diseases, especially those that can result in death or other permanent disabilities," it added.

Among the 47 signatories of the statement included the National Union of Transport Equipment and Allied Industries Workers Malaysia, Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower), Timber Industry Employee Union Sarawak, Sarawak Banking Employees Union, Malay Forest Officers Union, Malaysian Automotive Industry Workers Union Federation, Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor and Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture.

The group called on Human Resources Minister M Saravanan to use the powers conferred by subsection 32(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (Act 514) and declare that Covid-19 be recognised as an occupational disease.

The group said that despite the movement control order (MCO) being in place, workers in the essential services sector who are traveling to and from work every day are at greater risk of getting the disease.
"Now, recently even workers in charge of Human Resources, are required to travel and return to their workplaces for the purposes of arranging the monthly payment of salaries to workers.

"Workers who are also needed (or forced) to stay in particular accommodation by employers, should also be covered. 

"The Covid-19 pandemic highlights the inadequacies in occupational safety and health laws, and also social security laws for workers; it is time to remedy these failings," it said.

The group also claimed that in the past, workers had been forced to house together or work together and ended up contracting life-threatening ailments like tuberculosis from others.

It called for laws to apply to all workers, including migrant workers and domestic workers.

In Malaysia, local workers are generally covered by the Employees' Social Security Act 1969, which provides better protection to workers and/or their families compared to the Workmen’s Compensation Act 1952 that generally covered migrant workers. 

Malaysia has recorded a total of 2,908 infections with a death toll of 45, a mortality rate of 1.55 percent. 

Globally the death toll stands at over 47,000.

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