Monday, January 06, 2014

Guan Eng's proposed discrimination of migrant workers disappointing

For so long as Malaysia allows migrant workers to be exploited and discriminated with no real access to justice - employers would prefer 'easily exploitable' migrant workers over local workers...

LEVY to be paid by employers who wanted to employ migrant workers was a deterrent - but now Malaysia is trying to make migrants pay this levy and other cost previously borne by employers. Free housing is a promise made to migrant workers - but now they are being made paid for accomodation, and some time it even higher than the market rate and for poor overcrowded accomodation.

There is no quota imposed on employers as to the number of migrant workers they can use... no quotas even as to how many short-term contract employees, which I believe should be not more than 5% of the total workforce - the rest should be regular employees with guaranteed employment until retirement age.

Many employers make their migrant workers work even up to 11-12 hours per day, and 7 days a week including on rest days and public holidays. Unlike local workers, who more likely would refuse such long hours, migrant workers just cannot for fear of termination....and that is why they earn so much more than local hours. I wonder how governments can allow factories operating 24 hours to just have 2-shifts - it must be a law that requires such factories to have at least 3-shifts.

We need migrant workers because we are bringing in businesses which require so many workers - should not governments be concerned in bringing in foreign corporations with have lesser employment opportunities - so we can rely on local workers.

Malaysia kept wages so much so many local workers just got wise and moved away refusing to work for such low wages... finally, the government intervened and introduced minimum wages of RM900 - but it is too low, just about RM30 more than the poverty line income. Since, the cost of living just went up - but the minimum wages just stayed low...

Guan Eng's proposal would not just create great injustice for migrant workers (his idea about paying migrant workers lesser than local workers for the same work...and now delaying entitlement fair and equal wages{minimum wages} for what another 5 years???. 

Malaysian government glorified 'skilled work', high paying work, etc - so much so many young people are just looking for such 'high paying in air-conditioned environment' and this has affected a lot of small businesses ... 

Below a media statement by PSM on this issue


CM’s myopic view of migrant workers

January 6, 2014
FMT LETTER: From Rani Rasiah, via e-mail

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s statement that the minimum wage should be restricted to Malaysians only and not extended to migrant workers is hugely disappointing. His reasoning that extending the minimum wage to migrant workers would increase business costs as well as result in a net outflow of money is lame and totally unacceptable.

Employers are under no compulsion to hire migrant workers and if indeed they are too costly, then bosses should stop hiring them! Or if it is felt that SMEs can’t cope with a larger wage bill, then the government should subsidise the SMEs in some way instead of asking workers to make a sacrifice.

Workers’ rights are not exactly a priority with bosses, and thus workers look to the government to intercede on their behalf. Unfortunately, the federal government has shown itself to be complicit with employers in the exploitation of both Malaysian and migrant workers. It is truly regrettable that Lim Guan Eng doesn’t differ from the federal government in this matter.

Instead of addressing the demands of Malaysian workers for better wages and working conditions, the government has flooded the labour market with cheap migrant labour. This has severely curtailed the bargaining power of local labour, and created youth unemployment among unskilled, academically poor Malaysian youths, a situation that is a contributing factor to social problems.

Creating an income differential by denying migrant workers the minimum wage will not change this situation. In fact it will only encourage companies to employ foreign workers because it is cheaper. Lim Guan Eng’s remarks are thus shortsighted and harmful for Malaysian youths and workers as well.

The situation is no better for the more than four million migrant workers whose exploitation is sanctioned by government policies. It’s officially known that workers passports are unlawfully held by bosses, a situation that places them in an extremely vulnerable position, and that has led to all kinds of abuses, including the crime of trafficking.

The PSM is against the exploitation of workers. Cost-cutting should not be at the expense of workers, whatever their nationality. All workers should be paid the minimum wage without further delay. Stop discriminating by skin colour and nationality!

Accord labour its due dignity! Legislate policy in the interest of society!

The writer is PSM central committee member and coordinator of its migrant desk - FMT, 6/1/2013, CM’s myopic view of migrant workers

See also:- 

Did Guan Eng say that minimum wages under PR would only be for Malaysians not migrant workers? Please do clarify

Recommiting to upholding cause of justice - monitoring Malaysia, BN, PR, DAP and others

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