Tuesday, November 7, 2017

MTUC: Law doesn’t prevent foreign workers becoming union members

Foreign workers can become union members but they cannot hold leadership posts, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) clarified today.
MTUC president Abdul Halim Mansor said this when brushing aside a call by former Treasury secretary-general Mohd Sheriff Kassim for foreign workers to be allowed to join trade unions.

Halim said Sheriff clearly did not understand how the country’s labour laws worked.
He told FMT the matter was complicated as many foreign workers were engaged by employment agencies to work in Malaysia and were therefore not directly hired by companies.
“When they work for the employment agencies, they are contractually assigned to a company.
“They cannot participate in a union as they are not employees of the company,” he said, adding they were effectively sub-contract workers.
Halim said the benefits they could enjoy would depend on the agreements they had with the companies.
Sheriff, who is adviser and founding member of the Group of 25 eminent Malays, comprising former civil servants and diplomats, had told a forum yesterday that any move to allow foreign workers to join trade unions could help reduce the country’s dependence on labour from other countries in the long run.
He said these workers could get an increase in wages and this will discourage employers from searching for cheap labour and bringing in thousands of them from outside.
As of June 30 this year, there were 1.78 million legal foreign workers recorded in Malaysia, the majority comprising Indonesians, Nepalis and Bangladeshis.

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