Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Minister has power to ensure all workers are employees of the workplace - hence, all can join Union, and fight for better rights with employer?

Will Anwar and his Pakatan Harapan-led 'unity' government finally care about workers? 

In Malaysia, worker-employees are WEAKENED in the strength and ability to FIGHT for Better Rights and Working Conditions have been reduced - as the Malaysian government continues to allow non-employees of the workplace owner-employer to work in the workplace.

So, make sure that ALL workers are under a CONTACT OF SERVICE - making them all employees of the workplace they work in... employees of the owner-operator not some other 3rd party...

Workers UNITED will never be defeated - so, make all workers at the workplace EMPLOYEES of the one owner-operator, and under a CONTRACT OF SERVICE... Minister has the power to do this under Employment Act...See how them contract doctors fought and managed to win...

These non-employees at workplaces are:-

    - 'Outsourced workers' - referred to employees of 3rd parties(like labour providers or 'contractor for labours') who are working at workplaces. They are NOT employees of the owner-operator, and hence have no right to demand from owner-operators better rights and better working conditions. These workers CANNOT join in-house Trade Unions, as they are not employees of the owner-operator.

- Other workers who are under 'contracts for service'  - usually called 'independent contractors'. Some workplace employers have 'forced' some employees into becoming 'independent contractors' - again a contract for service. Being non-employees, they do not enjoy employee rights and benefits provided by law including annual leave, sick leave, maternity leave, EPF and SOCSO. Now, these 'independent contractors', no more employees will just get paid for work done - like truck/van drivers will only get paid for the number of trips. Not being employees - they cannot anymore fight for better employee rights or better conditions of work, they cannot join Trade Union of employees(as they are no more  employees)

The effect of having non-employees of the owner-operator of the workplace, WEAKENS the worker-employees and/or their Trade Unions in their capacity to struggle for better worker rights and better working conditions. 

Now, when it comes to worker rights - it is basically what is decided by EMPLOYER and EMPLOYEE in their employment contracts. When it comes to employment contracts, the worker is normally at a disadvantageous position, and will normally sign the agreement as his/her primary concern is getting a job and a pay. Hence, for workers, the struggle for better rights from the employer comes after that when workers UNITE and collectively fight for better rights from employers - and this could happen through Trade Unions or workers united acting collectively as one. However, workers' power and ability to fight against their employer for better rights is WEAKENED if there are NON-EMPLOYEE workers in the workplace, because employer can always continue to operate using non-employees.

Laws only provide for MINIMUM Rights - so, it is still up to the Worker and Employer to fight and decide on working condition and better rights. Malaysia, by law, set a minimum wage of RM1,500 - BUT, workers can struggle to get from their employer a Higher Minimum Wage > maybe RM2,500 or more. For this the worker-employees need POWER - and a joint action/effort by ALL workers is more likely to lead to an employer agreeing to pay a HIGHER MINIMUM WAGE for his/her workplace. But, the fact that the Malaysian government allows the use of 'contract FOR service' workers - employees of 3rd parties and independent contractors weakens the workers' ability to be able to succeed in getting better rights...Wonder whether government owned companies and GLCs provide for a Higher Minimum Wage than RM1,500-00, hence demonstrating a positive example to other private sector employers?

EPF/KWSP - some workers and/or Unions have managed to get employers to pay a Higher employer monthly contribution, higher than the mandatory limit of 13%(or 12% for employees earning more RM4k) - It could be 15% or more, sometimes increasing as the number of working years increase.

Workers can fight and get employers to pay a higher number of annual leave and sick leave, a reduced number of working hours, etc... the list and possibilities are unlimited, and it depends on the workers and their employer.

Now, will the government, i.e. the Minister who already has the power under Section 2A of the Employment Act, PROHIBIT EMPLOYMENT OTHER THAN CONTRACT FOR SERVICE, and the effect will be making all workers at any workplace EMPLOYEES of the workplace owner/operator >>> Hence, restoring the STRENGTH and Capacity of employees to fight for better worker rights and benefits with the ONE employer?

2A  Minister may prohibit employment other than under contract of service(Employment Act 1955)

(1) The Minister may by order prohibit the employment, engagement or contracting of any person or class of persons to carry out work in any occupation in any agricultural or industrial undertaking, constructional work, statutory body, local government authority, trade, business or place of work other than under a contract of service entered into with-

(a) the principal or owner of that agricultural or industrial undertaking, constructional work, trade, business or place of work; or

(b) that statutory body or that authority.

(2) Upon the coming into force of any such order, the person or class of persons employed, engaged or contracted with to carry out the work shall be deemed to be an employee or employees and-

(a) the principal or owner of the agricultural or industrial undertaking, constructional work, trade, business or place of work; or

(b) the statutory body or local government authority,

shall be deemed to be the employer for the purposes of such provisions of this Act and any other written law as may be specified in the order.

So, MINISTER, for the sake of workers - use the powers provided under Section 2A


* See also the 3 part series on the Malaysian Labour Movement

The state of the labour movement in Malaysia (Part 1)

The origins of the labour movement in M’sia (Part 2 of a series)

How the British suppressed the Malayan labour movement (Part 3)

The last breath of the labour movement?(Part 4)


Almost 13,000 contract doctors in Malaysia to get permanent positions within 3 years: PM Anwar

Almost 13,000 contract doctors in Malaysia to get permanent positions within 3 years: PM Anwar

Nearly 4,300 contract doctors in Malaysia will be offered permanent positions in 2023 at a cost of about RM1.7 billion. (Photo: Bernama)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on Tuesday (Apr 4) said that the government is expected to absorb some 12,800 contract doctors into permanent positions over the next three years.

Speaking in parliament, Mr Anwar, who is also the finance minister, said that just this year alone, nearly 4,300 contract doctors will be offered permanent positions at a cost of about RM1.7 billion (US$385.8 million), Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reported.

“Although they are being absorbed into permanent posts, the health ministry will continue appointing contract doctors for the purpose of housemanship, which also has implications for the ministry’s emoluments every year,” Mr Anwar was quoted as saying by FMT.

He was responding to a question posed by Tuaran Member of Parliament Madius Tangau who had asked about the total number of contract doctors in the country that are absorbed into permanent positions and the financial implications of it on the government.

Mr Anwar on Tuesday pleaded with contract doctors for their understanding of the government’s ability to absorb them into permanent positions under the health ministry, Malay Mail reported.

“I hope they understand that there is no intention to look at this matter lightly as the contract doctors have been serving well and sacrificed their time and energy, and the country does need them,” he said, according to Malay Mail.

Just last week, a group of Malaysian contract doctors threatened to go on strike and carry out a mass resignation due to unhappiness over their working conditions and low salary.

The group – which calls itself “Mogok Doktor Malaysia” or “Malaysian Doctors on Strike” – had called on medical doctors who are under contract to go on emergency or medical leave from Apr 3 to Apr 5.

It also told those who were looking to quit to do so on Apr 1 as part of a mass resignation.

Local media has since reported that there has been minimal disruption at government hospitals on the purported strike, with many hospitals saying that it was “business as usual”.

The Star reported on Tuesday that the activist group’s spokesman claimed that the strike has successfully achieved its aim.

The spokesman, identified as Dr Jamal, told The Star that the strike appeared to have no impact as there were fewer people waiting at hospitals on Monday – the first purported day of the strike.

“Even though we might not get most contract doctors involved in it, we have brought the issues of contract doctors to the eyes of the public and brought it to the attention of politicians in power,” he was quoted as saying by The Star.

Last month, Malaysia’s health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah urged healthcare workers who had planned on going on strike to not do so, saying that a strike would not be the best solution to the issues faced by these workers.

Dr Noor Hisham pointed out that the government has previously acted on requests raised by health officials through the creation of permanent positions, sponsorship of specialised training or advanced training, and time-based promotions, among others.

The issue regarding contract doctors has gained traction in recent years. It was a system introduced in 2016 when medical school graduates were only offered contractual positions by the government.

According to local media, the system was only meant to be a temporary solution to the government’s inability to offer permanent positions. But the issue has since persisted and doctors on temporary contracts kept getting extended without being converted to permanent status.

It was also reported that doctors under contract have fewer benefits, fewer opportunities to specialise in specific medical tracks and experience a lack of job security. - Channel News Asia, 4/4/2023


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