Monday, March 15, 2010

Burma Campaign Malaysia, MTUC and Malay Mail do good in workers' struggle for rights

Today, many newspapers, NGOs and persons are focussed on the  political dramas happening in Malaysia. There is really too much attention given to that MCA internal problems, PKR's party hoppers and expelled MP,  'Anwar wants to be declared still Deputy Prime Minister' trial,  Anwar's Sodomy Trial, Anwar's Defamation Suit, MB Selangor's trials, PR -v- BN Perak trials, ....and little attention is given to struggles of the little person - the workers, the farmers, the 'warga mas', etc.. Interesting as all these may be, it is important for the media to also pay a little more attention to things that really matter in the lives of the poor and oppressed. 

Malay Mail just did highlight the plight of workers - Burmese migrant workers. Not only did they report this, but also caused to publish 4 reports about the plight of these workers, education n about levy - and how employers cannot deduct anymore worker's wages to recover their expenses, etc..
Burma Campaign Malaysia should also be applauded for the role that they played.

Malaysian Trade Unions Congress (MTUC) role must also be applauded.

What we need now is for the Malaysian government, in the person of the Minister of Human Resources and the Labour Departments to begin playing a more active role in protecting worker rights... and discouraging employers action of terminating workers who try to claim their rights as provided by law. Some action must be taken against such employers...

How The Malay Mail got the action going

CHAOTIC: FT Labour officers and the Myanmar workers in front of the restaurant last Thursday

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malay Mail had received a tip-off that the 26 Myanmar workers had been sacked by Jogoya Restaurant.

Our team had gone to the restaurant last Wednesday to seek clarification but to no avail.

On Thursday, the workers were brought by countryman Yan Naing Tun from an NGO called Burma Campaign Malaysia to the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) to seek help from its senior industrial relations officer Peter Kandiah, accompanied by The Paper That Cares.

Kandiah led the group to the Federal Territory Labour Department office at Wisma Perkeso in Jalan Ampang to state their case. The same day, the department sent five officers to the restaurant to get back the workers' passports but were unable to meet the management.

Soon after, the restaurant manager was called to the FT Labour Department office and was told to return the passports, refund the deducted levies, to pay wages to the workers until today, and also provide their return air tickets.

The restaurant management met the department officers on March 12 to return the passports, and negotiate the department's demands.

On Friday, the management said they will provide air tickets for those who worked three years and above, and will only pay wages up to February. However, if both sides are unable to agree, the case will be brought to the Labour Court.

When contacted last night, Zar Ni Swe, one of the 26 Myanmar workers, said they hoped to get their passports today.

NGOs want more vigilance against errant employers

PETALING JAYA: Several NGOs have called on the Labour Department to be vigilant against employers who refuse salary slips to foreign workers and to prosecute employers who continue to deduct a levy from foreign workers.

“Last year, we received about 5,600 reports from foreign workers who claimed they didn't receive their wages, were subject to unknown deductions and were not issued with salary slips,” said Tenaganita director Irene Fernandez yesterday.

She said Tenaganita received reports in January of illegal levy deductions even though the government had deferred levy costs on foreign workers recruited after April 1 last year.

“Some foreign workers claimed they didn't get their salary or had unfair deductions from their wages. It is hard for us to ascertain the truth of such complaints since there are foreign workers who are not provided any payslip,” said Fernandez, adding that Tenaganita faced difficulties helping such workers when putting forward their cases to the Labour Department for action.

She hoped the Labour Department will constantly monitor employers, especially those in small-medium enterprises, manufacturing and service sectors to prevent such unhealthy practices becoming the norm in this country.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) urged the Labour Department to beef up enforcement against levy deductions on foreign workers.

“Some errant employers have apparently cheated their foreign workers with levy deductions, even with those who came to work in this country after April 1 and who renewed their work permits after that period,” said MTUC president Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud.- Malay Mail, 15/3/2010, Myanmar workers laid off without notice

See earlier posts:-

Levy Deductions: Workers Complain Employers Terminate - Government Must Act Against Such Employers

26 Burmese Migrants suddenly terminated ....will they get justice?


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