Tuesday, February 17, 2015

MALAYSIA:::Media Statement ::: MTUC Wants Migrant Workers To Pay The Same Rate As Local Workers For Public Healthcare.

Image result for Public Healthcare.MALAYSIA
Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) wants migrant workers to pay the same rate as local workers for public healthcare. Differential treatment of workers impacts on worker solidarity, and can be perceived as ‘union busting.
It is most disturbing to find out that migrant workers are also required to pay a deposit of RM600 before they be warded in a public hospital, and a deposit of RM1,200 if they are being warded for surgery or for child birth. When the monthly minimum wage in Peninsular Malaysia is RM900, and RM800 in Sabah and Sarawak, how could anyone reasonably believe that a migrant workers will be able to afford to pay such outrageous deposits before they can be hospitalised and receive required healthcare.
Malaysia may want to have a different rate for foreigners using public healthcare facilities and services but this should definitely not include migrant workers.
Migrant workers come to work in Malaysia because employers in Malaysia require workers, and the Malaysian government wants them to come. Migrant workers, usually coming from poorer countries, come here to earn monies for themselves and their families/dependents back home.

Many migrant workers, when they come to Malaysia to work already incurred debts of RM6,000 – RM15,000. Then here, in Malaysia, many migrant workers discover that they have been cheated as to actual salary and benefits of employment that they will receive. Many migrant workers did not enjoy the right to minimum wages until end of December 2014, and many also were placed in situation where their fellow local workers were paid minimum wages whilst they were not. Many also now are being burdened with levy, insurance and other payments.
Migrant workers are workers in Malaysia, and like all workers they must be treated equally. MTUC and unions in Malaysia represents all workers, and we certainly do not agree to discriminatory treatment against any one class of workers more so when it concerns healthcare.
The right to paid sick leave and hospitalisation leave is provided for in Malaysian law.
Now, when a migrant worker goes to see a doctor in a government clinic he/she will have to pay a registration fee of RM50, whilst a citizen only pays RM1. A worker generally needs to produce a medical certificate to the employer to be entitled to claim for paid sick leave. It is a grave injustice when a worker is required to pay so much more than the daily minimum of about RM34 to be able to even claim this right to sick leave.
Some employers have private panel doctors, to which their workers are expected to go but sadly there have been cases that these panel doctors sometimes do not even give sick leave even when worker is really too sick for work. This may have something to do with continuing to be panel doctor of the employer in the future. Hence, the only option is to go to a government doctor at public hospitals, who have no vested interest, and will be true in his/her diagnosis and required treatment. No one in a public hospital will be asked to get themselves warded or undergo surgery unless it is really required.
We also recall reported cases where employer’s delay in sending their migrant workers to get necessary healthcare have resulted in death of the migrant worker. Migrant workers need the ability and capacity to go themselves to the hospital, see the doctor, get necessary treatment and even be warded, if needed, and this extremely high registration fee, deposit and charges imposed on all foreigners is a big problem.
The imposition of different laws and conditions on different classes of workers also is a great hurdle in the organizing, forming and strengthening of trade unions in Malaysia. Both local and migrant workers are members of one and the same union, and as such policies and laws that creates particular problems to specific classes of workers can also be perceived as ‘union busting’ with the objective of weakening unions. Unions cannot justify why fellow union member, has to pay so much more to get healthcare just because he comes from a different country. For unions, workers are workers, and they all have to be treated equally irrespective of religion, ethnicity, gender or nationality.
MTUC urges that the government to immediately exempt all migrant workers from having to pay foreigner rates for usage of public facilities and services of healthcare in Malaysia.  Migrant workers, just like local workers should be paying the same rates.
MTUC also urges the Malaysian government to treat all workers equally, and stop attempts of ‘union busting’ when they create laws or policies that results in one class of workers being treated differently other workers, or when such laws and policies disrupts or threatens worker unity and solidarity.


N. Gopal Krishnan

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