Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Minimum wage policy: Traders want foreigner excluded | theSundaily

Minimum wage policy: Traders want foreigner excluded | theSundaily

PUTRAJAYA (Jan 29, 2013): About 200 traders and small business owners today marched to the Prime Minister's Office here to submit a memorandum calling for the exclusion of foreign workers in the minimum wage policy.
The group, which claimed they represented 57 business associations, however, stated their support for the minimum wage policy for local workers.
Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia council member Tan Poh Seng said the inclusion of foreign workers in the policy is "a slap and a burden" to business owners, adding that it will cause unhappiness among local workers.
He said previously, the Malacca Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry had passed a memorandum to the government on the matter, but it was not given serious consideration.
"We are submitting the same memorandum again to politicians and the government.
"We want members of the parliament to do more research on this matter, which we feel was implemented in a hurry," he told reporters after handing over the memorandum to the National Wages Consultative Council secretary T. Shanmugam.
On Jan 21, it was reported that the cabinet will decide "in one or two weeks" if foreigners will enjoy the same minimum wage as Malaysian workers.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said Malaysia is bound by labour and international laws, which call for no discrimination based on nationality, religion, creed or race.
He said due to the implementation of the minimum wage policy, the cost of employing foreign labour has gone up, and this was being deliberated by the cabinet.
The minimum wage in the peninsula is RM900 while it is RM800 in Sabah and Sarawak.

Office assistants left out of courses | theSundaily

Office assistants left out of courses

  A study conducted by the Public Service General Office Assistants Union revealed at least 20% of its members nationwide have not undergone development courses.
Cuepacs secretary-general Lok Yim Pheng said it is shocking that 20% out of 32,000 members nationwide have not attended these courses. She said it is mandatory for civil servants to attend training programmes at least seven days a year to fulfil requirements of the public sector training policy.
"In a big organisation, it is important to start from the bottom. These people are important groups as they are the machinery that support the organisation; it will be difficult to get things done without them," she told a press conference today.
On a separate matter related to a general office assistant who was sacked, Loke hoped for a win-win solution. She said the office assistant at a college in Selangor was sacked last October as he did not report to his new place of transfer, 200km from his original place of work.
"We hope the assistant and his superior will resolve the issue. The assistant must be given an opportunity to explain himself too," she said.
It was revealed trouble started for the man when he was suspected of reporting alleged misconduct of a superior to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
However, Loke said there is no proof he had lodged the report.
She added the office assistant appealed but there had been no reply from the institution.

IndustriALL demands real action after fire in Bangladesh | Industriall

IndustriALL demands real action after fire in Bangladesh | Industriall

7 die and 20 are injured in a blaze at a garment factory in Dhaka only two months after the tragic fire at Tazreen factory in November last year which took the lives of 112 people.

The fire emerged during lunch time on 26 January at a small garment factory Smart Fashions in Bangladesh capital Dhaka. The 7 reported victims have all been identified and are all female workers between 15 to 28 years old. The factory is said to employ 300 workers.
Reportedly, garments for some famous brands including Bershka and Lefties (Inditex), KIK, New Look, were found on site. Inditex says that it was not aware of an unauthorized subcontractor to an Inditex supplier with poor fire safety conditions. Inditex and IndustriALL Global Union have agreed on joint action based on their global framework agreement. It covers also suppliers and their subcontractors, which shall provide a safe and healthy workplace to their employees. The incident demonstrates the difficulties major companies have in controlling their global supply chains.

Soon after the tragedy at Smart Garments, Inditex and IndustriALL exchanged information they received from their partners and affiliates in Bangladesh, and started working on a remediation action plan. A joint mission will arrive in Dhaka on Tuesday 5 February to examine the situation and discuss necessary measures to minimize the effects of the incident to the victims.

Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union commented, “It is with great sadness that we have learned of another fire incident that claimed the lives of seven young female colleagues in the garment sector and caused injuries to many other workers. As in the Tazreen Fashion case, poor safety conditions resulted in a tragedy at Smart Fashion. Our deepest condolences go to the families of the perished and injured workers.”

“IndustriALL Global Union is calling for urgent and serious action to prevent further tragedies. We invite all major international brands, national employers and the government of Bangladesh to start an urgent discussion with us on a concrete plan of action. It must include strict health and safety regulations, efficient inspection and union participation in workplace cooperation, ensuring freedom of association in line with internationally recognized ILO labour standards, and a program to raise minimum wages to at least living wage levels in the country,” added Raina.

Over 4,500 factories operate in the garment sector of Bangladesh. Working conditions remain poor and the wage for most workers amounts to 3000 BDT ($38 US) per month making it only one third of a living wage in Bangladesh. After years of service, based on seniority, a worker can eventually reach 5,500 BDT (approximately $70 US).

Very few factories are unionized, despite the effort of trade unions to get registration enabling them to conduct collective bargaining. In the Dhaka region out of 26 unions fulfilling the condition of majority representation at the enterprises only one has so far received official registration enabling them to bargain collectively. Hence the difficulty for the workers to raise their concerns on safety to a trusted entity: a union which could bargain with the employers on safety issues among others.

Prior to the incident, on 23 January, Monika Kemperle, Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL met with the buyers’ representatives in Bangladesh where both recognized the importance of engaging all stakeholders for a common approach and that the government takes primary responsibility in ensuring the safety of the workers.

Together with affiliates IndustriALL will join an ILO Conference promoting fundamental principles and rights at work which will take place on 3 to 4 February in Dhaka. This conference will serve to make strategic planning and to analyze needs and build capacity of garment sector trade unions in Bangladesh.