Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why is the 2 Bills affecting workers not available on the Parliament website?

Where is the National Wages Consultative Council (NWCC) bill and the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2011 which allegedly was tabled today in Parliament according to 2 Free Malaysia Today reports?

When Bills get tabled in Parliament, it is also available at the Malaysian Parliament website, in English and also Bahasa Malaysia, but these two bills are not to be found there.

What is happening? Can some MP do something immediately to make sure that these Bills are immediately made available for members of the public to be able to look at it, analyze it and make comments that hopefully would be brought to Parliament by some MP or another. 

Really, the government must be more open and transparent - and go for public feedback and comments before suddenly tabling bills that affect all workers and their families.

Minimum wage council bill tabled

Patrick Lee | June 21, 2011 
The government tables the National Wages Consultative Council bill in the Dewan Rakyat for its first reading.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia made its first legislative attempt at putting in place a national minimum wage today.

Introduced by Human Resources Deputy Minister Maznah Mazlan in Parliament, the National Wages Consultative Council (NWCC) bill was tabled for its first reading.

The bill stated that the NWCC’s responsibility was to make sector-relevant minimum wage recommendations to the Human Resources Ministry.

These recommendations would include:
  • minimum wage rates.
  • coverate of recommended minimum wage rate according to sectors, employment types and regional areas.
  • the non-application of minimum wage.
  • the dates of when minimum wage would commence according to their sectors, employment and regional areas.
  • other matters, including implementation and coverage.
It also said that public consultation, research and data analysis should come before recommendations were made to the ministry.

The bill added that it was up to the government to agree with the recommendations or to ask the NWCC to take another look.

If the ministry agreed with the recommendations, it would make a minimum wage order. This order, however, was subject to review by the council at least every two years.

Meet at least four times a year
Speaking on the council itself, the bill said that the NWCC needed to meet at least four times a year.
It added that the council’s membership, including its chairman, deputy chairman, secretary and council members could not exceed 29 people.

The council member roll, it explained, needed to consist of:
  • at least five members from amongst public officers.
  • at least five members representing employees.
  • at least five members representing employers.
  • at least five other members.
The bill also would empower enforcement officers to investigate, enforce and conduct inquiries related to offences that flouted the minimum wage order.

It also specified heavy penalties for employers who did not follow the minimum wage order.

“An employer who fails to pay the basic wages as specified in the minimum wage order to his employees commits an offence and shall on conviction, be liable to a fine of not more than RM10,000 for each employee,” it said.

Employers, the bill added, covered members of a board of directors, body corporates, partnerships and societies.

More rights for women workers
In a related matter, amendments to the Employment Act 1955 were also tabled in Parliament by the Human Resources Ministry today.

Entitled the “Employment (Amendment) Bill 2011″, the amendments would see more rights for female workers on maternity leave.

According to the bill’s explanatory statement, the bill enables pregnant workers to enjoy maternity protections “as early as 22 weeks of pregnancy, should the eventualities such as premature births or miscarriages occur.”

The amendment also said that employers who sacked their female employees who were entitled to maternity leave and allowance, were to be penalised.

This, it added, was as long as the “termination is not due to the closure of the employers’ business.”

The amendments also touched on sexual harassment, which defined it as: “Any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, non-verbal, visual, gestural or physical, directed at a person which is offensive or humiliating, or is a threat to his well-being, arising out of and in the course of his employment.”

Any complaints of sexual harassment, the bill added, also needed to be inquired by an employer.

On another note, people who employed or terminated foreign domestic workers from service needed to inform the director-general within a 30-day period.

Failure to do so, the bill said, would make errant employers liable to a RM10,000 fine. - Free Malaysia Today, 21/6/2011, Minimum wage council bill tabled

‘Minimum wage bill a let-down’

Patrick Lee | June 21, 2011 
All the hype and promises by the government have not helped salvage the proposed minimum wage from being a major disappointment, DAP said.
KUALA LUMPUR: The National Wages Consultative Council (NWCC) bill is a big disappointment for Malaysian workers, said the DAP.Klang MP Charles Santiago said that the bill, which was tabled for its first reading in Parliament today, did not have anything to say about a minimum wage itself.

“They (the human resources ministry) should define what a minimum wage is. It’s disappointing that after all the hype, the bill doesn’t say anything about a minimum wage,” said Santiago.

The DAP economist also said that except for the introduction of the NWCC, much of the Employment Act remained the same.

According to the bill, the NWCC’s responsibility is to come up with recommendations for the human resources minister to set minimum wages for the country.

However, the bill states that it is up to the minister to accept these recommendations. A refusal to do so, it added, would force the council to review these recommendations.

But Santiago said that a such council should not wait on the minister’s word for the approval of a minimum wage.

He also took a swipe at the representation of government servants in the NWCC.

He raised concerns about the “at least five other members” of the council, and speculated that these places would be filled by former “directors-general” or other ministerial officials.

Santiago said that these positions should be filled by academics, industrial relations experts or labour lawyers who could contribute with honesty and impartiality.

“The biggest fear is that these places would be filled by all these Tan Sri and Datuks,” he said. - Free Malaysia Today, 21/6/2011, ‘Minimum wage bill a let-down’

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