Saturday, May 2, 2015

MALAYSIA:::MTUC Sarawak has wish list for May 1

KUCHING: MTUC Sarawak has come up with a 20-point wish list under eight categories viz. ; minimum wage; minimum retirement age; cola (cost of living allowance) and high cost of living; more liberal trade union laws; foreign workers; corruption; and unemployment insurance.
MTUC Sarawak Secretary Andrew Lo identified liberal trade union laws as the key to resolving the woes facing workers in the country. “The New Economic Model (NEM) calls for the creation of a high-income nation for everyone.”
“You cannot have a high-income nation if wages remains stagnant by making it easier for employers to sack workers and reduce the influence of trade unions.”

As a result, he added, collective bargaining has become nothing more than collective begging. “We must amend the labour laws to offer greater protection to workers and their unions.”
He called for strengthening the trade union movement by adopting a more liberal approach to trade union registration, recognition and representation. “We have seen evidence from countries where unions are strong, effective, representative and independent, that the real wages have increased,” said Lo. What is more important, the industry/enterprise that they exist in has flourished, where profitability and productivity is amongst the highest.”
Yet in Sarawak, he lamented, a government link company Trieneken Sarawak as well as CMS Bhd — a public listed company with extensive government contracts — dismissed the president and secretary of their employees union in a clear union-busting attempt. “We call on the authorities concerned to prosecute the companies.”
MTUC is concerned over the introduction of GST and has noted that the consumption tax has been used by businesses as another excuse to increase prices. In Sarawak, continued Lo, cost of living is 15 per cent to 25 per cent higher compared to the peninsula. “While government employees have a regional allowance, private sector employees do not.”
“We call on the government to make amendments to the Employment Act and the Sarawak Labour Ordinance to compel private sector employers to pay cola to their employees.”
MTUC also wants a review of the minimum wage to match the huge increase in productivity of Malaysian workers as otherwise the dream of a high income nation may not be achieved.
Among other salient points, the union called for the service charge to be included in the calculation of EPF contribution; and ensure that workers will not lose their existing benefits under the proposed unemployment system.
Unemployment Insurance is part of a social safety net system to give temporary relief and to ease transition of workers who may be retrenched as the economy transforms from a low wage/low productivity economy to a high wage and high productivity one.
Tens of thousands of Sarawakians have to leave their families to work in Singapore, Johor, Kuala Lumpur, and Penang while up to 75 per cent of workers in the timber and plantation industries are foreign workers.

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