Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fight the attempt of some employers to get migrant workers to pay levy...

Come 1st January 2013, workers in Malaysia should have started receiving minimum wages of RM900 for those in Peninsular Malaysia, and RM800 for those in East Malaysia, but alas many employers are trying to evade paying Minimum Wages. For Malaysia, who never had 'minimum wages', this would be the first time that the government had to step in through laws to require employers to pay their workers a minimum wage. The call for minimum wages have been made by workers and trade unions for a long time, but finally the government decided to move when their own survey of salaries of Malaysian workers in 2009 revealed that employers were unjustly paying workers low wages. The National Employment Returns 2009, 34% of 1.3 million workers in the study earn less than RM700. The poverty income line for 2009, for Sabah (RM1048) and Sarawak (RM912), whilst for Peninsular Malaysia it is RM763. Malaysia's average poverty line income then was RM800. - Charles Hector Blog

In Malaysia, the employment laws clearly prohibit discrimination of workers based on nationality, and clearly and justly, when we talk about minimum wages, we are talking about Basic Wages, i.e. work for 8 hours per day, not including rest days, public holidays, overtime, allowances like shift allowances and other benefits. The Human Resource Ministry for a long time was wrongly allowing some employers to recover levy payments and other payments, which in law were not permissible lawful deductions, and finally as of 1st April 2009, employers were no longer allowed to make such wage deductions to recover levy that employers have to pay the government when they choose to employ a migrant worker rather than a local worker.

The rationale behind getting employers to bear the levy was to discourage them from employing foreigners.... - Bernama, - Star, 16/4/2009

Sadly, again some employers are trying to change the law yet again, and this government having been shown to be pro-employer may again discriminate against migrant workers. Remember that migrant workers in Malaysia do not have the freedom of association, and as such have no one to lobby for their rights, save for the Malaysian Trade Unions and civil society organisations. Migrants in Malaysia can join trade unions, but they cannot hold office in these trade unions and cannot on their own form trade unions. With the advent of the 'contractor for labour system', many migrants are today no more employees of the principal or the factories where they work. Effectively, their right to join trade unions and benefit from Collective Bargain Agreements have been substantially diminished. Factories and employers complain that the Malaysian government has made it even more difficult for them to hire workers as their own employees - but some good employers still do, as a matter of policy, ensure that all workers working for them are their employees.
We need to fight these trend of evading employment relationship - by the using of workers not my employees. In the struggle for worker rights, we need to fight attempts to 'divide and exploit'... and ensure that all workers are treated as workers irrespective of nationality, etc...

Monday January 7, 2013

Industries welcome ‘let workers pay levy’ suggestion


IPOH: Various industries have welcomed a suggestion that foreign workers' wages should include their levy, transportation and allowances for accommodation.
It would be less taxing on their respective companies or employers, said Federation of Malaysian Manu-facturers Perak branch chairman Datuk Gan Tack Kong, referring to a suggestion by MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.
“The implementation of the minimum wage policy is already stressful to most companies. There are even companies offering foreign workers wages of more than RM1,000.”
“There are also workers who can claim overtime and their wages can be doubled,” he said.
He said several multinational companies had told him that they were doing the best they could for their workers.
Real Estate and Housing Deve-lopers Association Malaysia Perak branch chairman Datuk Francis Lee Yew Hean said he concurred with Dr Chua's suggestion.
”Whether it's accommodation or transportation, all costs are incurred by the employers and we should recognise this,” he said.
However, he stressed that companies which were capable of providing accommodation, meals and transportation together with the wages should do so.
Federation of Malaysian Vegetable Growers secretary-general Chay Ee Mong said the suggestion was acceptable as most foreign employees were given other benefits like insurance. He also pointed out that most foreign workers in farms were earning more than locals as accommodation was provided for them.
“They stay in a group and can save by cooking and sharing their meals and there's no need to fork out extra transportation costs,” he said.
Batu Pahat Chinese Chamber of Commerce president Gan Eng Huat said it would be great if the Govern-ment agreed to the suggestion.
Gan said the furniture industry was among those most affected by the policy.
Citing an example, he said a furniture manufacturer here had about 1,000 foreign workers and with the new policy, had to pay each of them an extra RM300 to RM450. - Star Online, 7/1/2013,Industries welcome ‘let workers pay levy’ suggestion

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