Sunday, February 17, 2013

Strike fear hits employers of foreign workers

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb , 2013): Industry bosses are worried the strike by foreign workers at a furniture factory in Johor just before the festival shutdown may ignite similar action among foreigners and the local workforce.
A report in Oriental Daily News today said many employers believed the lack of a "black and white" from the government to specify the foreign workers levy should be fully borne by them was the reason why negotiations with these workers had failed.
Some 500 foreign workers of Digital Furniture Sdn Bhd in Muar downed tools a day before the Chinese New Year break when the management did not agree to demands to implement the RM900 minimum wage order immediately and agree to pay their levies.
It is learnt that a wave of strikes is waiting to hit industries containing a high percentage of foreign workers.
Small-Medium Industries (SMI) Association of Malaysia national president Teh Kee Sin said foreign workers planning to strike were sending text messages to their countrymen.
"The Muar incident has prompted workers from Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Vietnam and others to join hands in making demands," he said.
Teh warned Oriental Daily, of possible chaos next week when factories resume operations as any strike action will affect production.
He said employers are confused because while MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the minimum wage can include some allowances, labour law does not allow it. Unclear answers from the Human Resources Ministry is making matters worse.
"We need proof to negotiate with foreign workers. Now, we only know from media reports that the cabinet has decided the levy should be borne by the workers themselves.
SMI Association of Malaysia deputy president Michael Kang said employers also worry local workers may down tools.
He said many locals are not happy that the new policy meant a pay rise of about RM50 for them compared with the RM300-400 for foreign workers. They are also not happy that foreign workers, also enjoy housing and transport allowances and they want similar allowances.
Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Shamsuddin Bardan felt the government should get tough and repatriate foreign workers who strike.
He said according to their employment agreement, foreign workers lose a day's pay for every day of their strike, and should the strike continue for more than two days or cause disturbances, they can be sent home immediately.

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