Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Migrant Workers right to join Trade Unions being eroded in Malaysia

Migrant workers can join Trade Unions in their factories and workplaces, and as such also benefit from better rights that are usually found in Collective Bargaining Agreements between employers and the Trade Union - BUT these workers have to be employees of the said factory or workplace.[Migrant workers in Malaysia can join Trade Unions, but they cannot form or hold office in Trade Unions since our laws state that those with these rights must be Malaysians]

But employers, with the 'blessing' of the Malaysian government, have taken away this right to even join Trade Unions, and benefit from the better terms and conditions of employment usually found in Collective Bargaining Agreements. The government allowed the 'outsourcing agents/labour outsourcing agents' since after 2005. Today, they are called 'contractors for labour' in our laws since April 2012.

Now many migrant workers are workers at the factory or workplace - BUT they are not employees of the factory/workplace, and as such cannot join Trade Unions.

The factory/workplace owner now enter into agreements with these 'contractors for labour' for the supply of a certain number of workers, who then supplies 'their employees' to the factory/workplace owner, who justly should be the real employer. Why? Because it the factory/workplace owner who have total control and supervision of the workers and working conditions.

Remember that today, it is not just migrant workers but many local workers who are in this predicament - since they are supplied to factories/workplaces by these 'outsourcing agents'. In some factories, almost 50% of the workers are not 'employees' of the factory - hence no right to join the Trade Union in that factory, and no right to claim the benefits contained in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Malaysian Trade Union Congress, Malaysian Bar and many groups are against this situation, and have called for ...even picketed for the abolition of this practice. We believe that it must be factory/workplace owner who should be the employer of all workers working at the said factory/workplace...

Kenyataan Bersama – 3/5/2012 ((Versi Bahasa Malaysia)

Tarikbalik pindaan 2012 kepada Akta Kerja 1955.

Kami, 93 kesatuan sekerja, kumpulan masyarakat awam (civil society groups) dan pertubuhan yang bertandatangan di bawah membantah tindakan kerajaan Malaysia menghancurkan perhubungan pekerjaan(employment relationship) terus di antara prinsipal sebagai majikan, dan pekerja(workers) mereka selaku pekerja(employee) melalui pindaan terbaru Akta Kerja 1955.

Joint Statement – 3/5/2012

Abolish the ‘Contractor for Labour’ system

Withdraw the 2012 amendments to Employment Act 1955.

We, the undersigned 93 trade unions, civil society groups and organizations object to the actions of the government of Malaysia in destroying direct employment relationship between the principal, as employer, and their workers, as employees, with the latest amendments to the Employment Act 1955.

Media Statement – 28/10/2011 (107 Groups),now 111

We, the undersigned 111 organizations, groups and networks are disturbed that the Malaysian government has proceeded to table, and get it passed speedily on 6/10/2011 at the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representative) the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2011 despite protests from workers, trade unions and civil society. The proposed changes to the Employment Act would be most detrimental to worker rights, trade unions and the existing just direct 2-party employment relationship between worker and end-user (the principal). Malaysia’s action goes contrary to justice. In many countries employers have been wrongly trying to avoid/disguise employment relationships by way of contracts/agreements and triangular relationships, and Malaysia rather than fighting against this negative trend is now trying to legalize it, hence showing itself to be anti-worker anti-unions.
Many BAD employers of taken advantage of this situation to avoid employment relationship with their workers, weaken Trade Unions, etc... BUT there are some GOOD employers who still opt to ensure that all their workers, including migrant workers, are their own employees. 

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