Thursday, February 07, 2013

A great injustice when Malaysia allows employers to make workers work 12.5 hours a day, 30 days a month...

When you make migrant workers work for 12.5 hours a day for 30 days, then naturally you would end up  paying migrant workers  more than local workers, who certainly will not tolerate such exploitation. 

What happened to maximum 8 hours work per day, or 48 hours per week. 

As of 1998, following amendments to the Employment Act, now employers CAN if the Director General of Labour (now known as DG of Human Resources) approves the application of employers to so subject workers to such long inhumane working hours. 

So, blame will lie on this Barisan Nasional government who allows workers to be so exploited - ignoring fundamental universally recognised worker rights and human rights.

"According to an imitative financial statement calculated by the Malacca Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, if a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) has 100 local employees and 100 foreign workers, under the minimum wage policy, the company has to pay an additional RM753,130 to foreign workers and RM483,990 to local employers. In other words, a foreign worker earns RM1,853 per month, including basic salary and overtime allowances, which is higher than the RM1,515 monthly salary of local employee. In view of this, the minimum wage policy is going to benefit foreign workers instead of local employees, while increasing the expenses of employers. It seems like the policy is good for nothing." - Malaysian Insider, 31/1/2013, Are foreign workers the beneficiaries of minimum wage policy? — Lim Sue Goan

See the comment to this post, that tried to explain the basis for this assertion by Malacca Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, that comment, the relevant portions are cited below:-

"I think it does make sense that a SMI which employs 100 foreign worker have to fork out additional RM700,000 - RM 850,000.00. Previously the rate was RM22.00 per day (8am - 5pm) and subsequently increase a bit since few years back. For the foreign worker,
1. old wages (maximum) are :- (((RM22/8)*12.5 hour per day) * 34 days <26 4="" basic="" days="" double="" pay="" plus="">)- RM1168 per month.
2. New wages (maximum) are :-
(((RM4.33*12.5 hour per day <11 exclude="" hours="" lunch="">)*34) = RM1840.25
3. Therefore the difference are :
RM 1840.25 - RM 1168 = RM672.25 per worker
4. Therefore 100 workers =
RM672,25.00 additional wages per Month.
5. Therefore RM806,700.00 additional wages per year..."

Someone  explained about having to pay more for migrant workers, compared to local workers...

It is based on the fact that migrant workers are being made to...
Work 12.5 hours per day for 30 days per month – and local workers do not

Workers fought for the right to work a maximum of 8 hours per day (or 48 hours a week), and this was clearly stated in our Employment Act 1955

But in 1989[i], the government amended the law allowing for the Minister to waive these rights as to required hours of work, on the application of the employer, but retained the condition that no worker is required to work for more than forty-eight hours in one week, which subsequently was removed by yet another amendment in 1998[ii].

Let us now consider in greater detail that comment:-

Basic Wage for Migrant Workers – RM22 (8 hours work) – about RM2.75 per hour

Overtime (Rate is one half times basic wages = RM4.125 per hour) for 3 hours = EM12.375

[The additional 1 ½ hours is taken as breaks for lunch, etc – BUT this means the worker is at the workplace for 12 ½ hours per day]

Total wages for a day = RM34.375  [RM22 + RM12.375]

34.375 X 34days = RM1168.75

But, why 34 days a month, this was explained as being 26 days PLUS 4 Rest Days (On rest days, simply put, workers are entitled to get double pay), so 26 PLUS (4 X2) = 34. 

This means migrant workers are being made to work 30 days a month – in short, literally no ‘rest day’.

If a local worker is also made to work the same long hours, then they too will be earning the same.

Is this also not discrimination?

It seems that it is these kind of arguments made by employers, that may have convinced the Malaysian Cabinet to change their position that levy is to be paid by employers, a position since 1992 – to now say that migrant workers themselves are to be liable to pay the levy – allowing now employers to deduct from wages between RM34.16 and RM154.16. {The difference is because the levy charged differs for different sectors}

“The Government's move to impose a levy on foreign workers will not be a burden to them as the levy paid is between RM34.16 and RM154.16 per month as compared to a salary increase of between RM300 to RM500 per month,” Ahmad Husni said in a statement Wednesday. - Star, 30/1/2013, Cabinet: Foreign workers to pay levy instead of employers with immediate effect
Refer to earlier post, which publishes the above Star report in full:- All workers entitled to Minimum Wages, that is Basic Wages - if employers can deduct levy, allowances, etc - Workers lose

[i] Employment (Amendment) Act 1989 Act A716
[ii] Employment (Amendment) Act 1998 Act A1026

Malaysian Trade Union Congress, and 75 civil society groups and trade unions have protested this move by the Malaysian government, and the question is whether this government will do anything to remedy this injustice.

75 Groups:MINIMUM WAGES FOR ALL WORKERS, INCLUDING MIGRANT WORKERS - No to Wage Deduction to recover Levy Payable By Employers -

Who really is GUILTY of this injustice to workers? It was this BN government that amended the law - opening the door to workers having to work more than 8 hours per day...48 hours per week.

And, if the employers who are making workers work 11 hours (being 12.5 hours at the workplace) for 30 days of the month are doing so with the PERMISSION of the DG of Labour/Human Resources - then again it is this BN government that is GUILTY. If the employers do not have the said 'permission', then the government must immediately act to end this injustice.

The law allows it, may be the answer - BUT alas, this is a BAD law - and government's first duty is to protect workers, the oppressed and marginalised.

Workers, and all justice loving people, are concerned for all workers in Malaysia - and, they will not accept the exploitation and violation of rights of any worker - even the migrant worker in Malaysia.


THIS IS GROSS VIOLATION OF WORKER RIGHTS, AND IT SEEMS THAT NO LOCAL WORKER WOULD ALLOW SUCH EXPLOITATIVE WORKING CONDITIONS BUT ON THE OTHER HAND MIGRANT WORKERS, GIVEN THEIR PRECARIOUS REALITY, HAVE REALLY NOT MUCH CHOICE. What can they do? Say 'NO' - well that may lead to termination, and termination means a loss of right to stay(and work legally) depriving even the right for these workers to complain or utilize the avenues for justice provided for in law. Further, migrant workers are only permitted to work for one employer - no right to change employers, even when their rights are being violated and they are being exploited. 

Workers, even local workers, have effectively lost the right to refuse employer demands to work overtime or on rest days or on public holidays. It is made even worse given the fact that many workers are being employed on short-term employment contracts, or as 'outsourced workers' supplied by some contractor for labour having not even an employment relationship with the principal. If you do not want to work longer hours, employers just terminate, or not renew your employment contract when it ends. For the outsourced workers, it simply means picking up the phone and telling the contractor to supply another worker - and when this happens, that may mean 'retrenchment' by the contractor for labour who really has no work of their own for these workers.
The Employment Act needs to be amended to ensure that all workers in Malaysia are only required to work 8 hours a day...OR at worse a maximum of 48 hours a week. They must be entitled to one REST DAY per week. The ability of the DG of Labour to grant exemptions must be removed,

How many employers have been given permission to work their workers for more than 8 hours per day...or more than 48 hours per week? I wonder, but as a Malaysian, I am ashamed of this government.... [Lack of transparency has allowed this injustice go on for far too long - IT MUST END NOW.] The official website does not give this information - which employer, how many workers, what permission given.

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