Thursday, January 12, 2017

Local Workers Suffer As Malaysia Delays Employer Obligations to Pay Levy for Migrant Workers?

Malaysia has done it again - shifting the payment of foreign worker levy back to workers - when it rightly and justly should be with employers. This levy was introduced for the purpose of deterring employers from hiring foreign workers and hopefully hiring Malaysian workers.

As it is, even if the employer has to pay the levy, the cost of employing and maintaining a local worker was higher. For a local worker, over  and above the income, the employer also has to pay their share to the Employees Provident Fund(EPF) and Social Security. At present, the employer is expected to pay 13% of the total monthly income to EPF.

For local workers, employers pay extra 13% above their income to EPF - not so for migrant workers?

In Singapore, the levy that the employer needs to pay for foreign workers seem to take into account these additional contributions that the employer has to pay when they hire a local worker - hence levy payable for migrant workers by employer is higher. This in effect makes the cost of labour for both local and migrant worker the same. Of course, the deterrent then would be the additional cost of transporting the migrant worker to and from Singapore.

Singapore - Migrant Worker Employer Pay Levy, Quotas, Increased levy as you increase percentage of MW? Protection of local workers?

Migrant workers are also preferred because they can be cheated and exploited, and migrant workers effectively has no effective means of complaining and getting justice. When migrant workers claim rights, they simply are terminated, and their work visa/pass is cancelled making it illegal for them to remain in the country. Well, most avenues of justice, including courts/tribunals, require the physical presence of the worker claiming rights - so, without the ability to continue to work and earn legally, migrant workers have no choice but to leave and abandon their quest for justice. Local workers, well they remain in Malaysia and will continue to fight until the end. Malaysian policy now is also that a migrant worker is not allowed to work for any other employer - nigrant worker have no choice but to continue to work for an exploitative employer or leave Malaysia.

With the easy access and availability of migrant workers as 'cheap labour', local workers wages can also be kept low. To facilitate greater exploitation of workers, Malaysia also has a draconian legal limit for overtime work - 104 hours a month, which is about 4 hours per working day - which means that workers in Malaysia can end up working for about 12 hours per day. (What happened to the right to 8 hours work?). Overtime work, in principle is permissible only with consent of the worker, but alas in practice, workers no longer have the choice if the employer ask them to work overtime.

Overtime Policy - Local workers are prejudiced by present 'overtime limits' - 104 hours per month?

Wages were kept low by the UMNO-BN government, to make Malaysia attractive to the foreign investor - Malaysia could offer them 'cheap labour' - and, at the end of the day, it was the Malaysian worker that suffered...wages remain low, and finally Malaysia had to set a 'Minimum Wage' - but that minimum wage is also unreasonably low at RM1,000 per month. It is absurd rate in a country when the government admits that families earning less than RM3,000-RM4,000 are 'poor' and requires financial assistance by the government in the form of BR1M. Logically, then even if the government aspires that family income should be higher than RM3,000, then naturally Minimum Wage should not be less than RM1,500.

Things may have become better for Malaysian workers, and workers generally, if the UMNO-BN government yet again did not choose to delay the obligation of employers to pay foreign worker levy - but, yet again, the government concern seem to be the 'well-being' of employers...or is it really those 'labour suppliers' - the contractors for labour'...Now, the government has made these 'contractor for labour' employers - so, it is really not the foreign companies in Malaysia that find it difficult to employ their own workers - hence forcing them to use workers supplied by these 'contractors for labour'. So, is the delay of levy payment obligations really more to protect the 'contractor for labours' - rather that the 'real' employer who needs workers for their factories? It is not easy to get the permit to operate as 'contractor for labour (or labour suppliers) - some may suggest only cronnies and friends get the permits? 

So, is the delay of employer obligation to pay levy really an act to 'protect' contractor for wonders?

Employers saying that they cannot find skilled local workers - so they need skilled foreign workers??? Why is the Malaysian governments doing anything to generate SKILLED local workers?

Malaysia should abolish the 'contractor for labour system' - and make sure every worker working at a particular workplace is an employee of that workplace...

97 Groups say it is 'Immoral for Malaysia to take from Workers to overcome national economic problems' - Employers should pay the Levy – Not Migrant Workers

The near silence of PAS, DAP, PKR on worker issues and concerns is most disturbing ...remember there are more than 15 million local workers...and there will be millions more in the future, and they all are voters...and if you do not care for workers...then maybe workers and their family may reject you in the next elections...

Cabinet agrees to postpone levy payment on foreign workers to 2018
Wednesday January 11, 2017

Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the Cabinet had agreed to postpone until 2018 the implementation of levy payment on foreign workers by employers under the Employer Mandatory Commitment (EMC). — File picDatuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the Cabinet had agreed to postpone until 2018 the implementation of levy payment on foreign workers by employers under the Employer Mandatory Commitment (EMC). — File pic

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 11 — The Cabinet has agreed to postpone to next year, the implementation of levy payment on foreign workers by employers, which will be enforced under the Employer Mandatory Commitment (EMC).

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the Cabinet today, had also agreed to look into a proper ecosystem, aimed at providing convenience to industries in hiring foreign workers, and to ensure the country’s economic growth.

He said the decision was made after a presentation by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low who gave the overall picture pertaining to the EMC.

“It is not just on levy, but on the rights of the employer to have direct access towards the workers, rather than going through a middle man, how to cut down bureaucracy procedures and how to have fast employment of foreign workers.

“At the meeting, we also voiced out the need to regulate employment of foreign workers and ensure it can support our economic growth, without giving problem to our social issues,” he told reporters here today.

On Dec 31, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also home minister, had announced employers would be responsible for paying the levy of their foreign workers which would be enforced under the EMC.

Under the scheme, the employers would be disallowed from deducting the levy from the wages of their workers.

Yesterday, construction industry players wanted the EMC to be scrapped as it did not benefit the country.

Liow said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had agreed to look into these matter personally and would coordinate with the home ministry and human resources ministry to “take care of whatever hiccups” to resolve the issue.

“The Cabinet is clear that our foreign worker policy must be vibrant and able to solve the present shortage of foreign workers in the country,” he said, adding the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers would meet soon. — Bernama

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