Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Form tripartite taskforce to monitor worker safety, MTUC tells Penang

MTUC Penang Div. Press Release

Two (2) tragedies within a short span of time claiming multiple lives of workers is shocking news! MTUC Penang Division is of the view that both the said incidents i.e. the Tanjung Bungah construction site loss of lives and the road accident deaths along the North South highway this morning must be investigated in a holistic and comprehensive manner. No corners should be left unturned nor no issues swept under the carpet.

The lives lost cannot be brought back but those responsible for their untimely and tragic deaths must be held accountable. On this score we welcome the Penang State government's decision to set-up a Commission of Inquiry. We, however, call upon the state to appoint non-partisan, competent and aptly qualified people as members of the said commission.

The MTUC Penang Division is also of the view that the State government ought to also consider a tripartite task force to monitor safety standards not only at construction sites but also in the manufacturing and other employment related places of operation. Though it maybe argued that such jurisdiction would be with the Department of Occupational Health and Safety it is our view that employers have both a moral and corporate responsibility to ensure the safety, welfare and well-being of their workers. It is also our view that the state, by extention, has the same moral obligation to work towards ensuring a safe place of work.

Today's road accident that has claimed many lives, and which has left many more workers injured, is a case in point. In all probability the accident would be attributed to negligence and/or other mechanical factors. And as usual the employers of the dead and injured would be absolved of any blame. We in MTUC Penang, however, hold to the position that these employers must be, vicariously, held responsible! Since they engage the transport providers it would be their primary duty to ensure the mode of transport is road-worthy at all times. We have been given to understand that one of the bus had broken down and was parked at the left line of the highway when the other slammed into it resulting in the tragedy that we woke up to this morning.

It is our view that if the employer's had ensured that thier transport providers had maintained their vehicles in a safe and road worthy condition the said bus would not have broken down and the said tragedy would not have occured.

MTUC Penang Division, herewith, calls upon all employers who engage transport providers to ensure the safety of their vehicles so used to transport their workers to and from work. We are of the view that employers should demand the highest standard of vehicle maintenance by those transport providers. Employers should also demand that their transport providers show proof of their vehicles mandated inspection. Employers should make it a point to carry-out periodically safety audits of the vehicles that are used to provide transport to their workers. It is our demand that there be no compromise on the safety of such vehicles.

To the families of those who have, unjustly, lost their loved ones MTUC Penang Division extends our deepest condolences.

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