Tuesday, November 6, 2018

MALAYSIA::: CLAIM OF BONDED LABOUR IN BENTONG, PAHANG

PRESS RELEASE BY THE MALAYSIAN TRADES UNION CONGRESS PENANG DIVISION - CLAIM OF BONDED LABOUR IN BENTONG, PAHANG

MTUC Penang Division calls upon the police, and the Ministry Of Human Resources, to commence an immediate investigation in respect of the claim of bonded labour by a group of workers from Tamil Nadu, India.

The claim, by the workers concerned, would tantamount to modern day slavery which our country cannot condone as we  do not tolerate such uncivilsed and  immoral conduct by employers. The employers involved, if investigations establishes the fact of bonded labour, must be made to face the full force of the law.

The claim by the workers involved that they were intimidated with physical harm is criminal in nature and the authorities ought to establish if it was a fact and, if so, commence appropriate action thereof.

Workers, irregardless of whether they are citizens of the country or not,  must be accorded their rights to universally accepted labour standards. Any employer who behaves otherwise must be made accountable for their violiation of the law. They must pay for their crime!

MTUC Penang Division believes that the case in hand is only a dip in the ocean. We are also of the view that such cases occur because of weakness in the recuritment of migrant workers. On this score we welcome the Human Resources Minisrer's recent announcement of the termination of the middle man in employment of migrant workers. The said decision, we think, would eradicate the inhuman exploitation of migrant workers.

In conclusion we pray that the cause, of the Tamil Nadu bonded/slavery workers in Bentong Pahang, would not be sweept under the carpet by our police and the Ministry Of Human Resources.


K.VEERIAH
Secretary
Malaysian Trades Union Congress
Penang Division
0164184520
5.11.2018

Saturday, November 3, 2018

PRESS RELEASE BY THE MALAYSIAN TRADES UNION CONGRESS (MTUC) PENANG DIVISION - THE 2019 NATIONAL BUDGET

PRESS RELEASE BY THE MALAYSIAN TRADES UNION CONGRESS (MTUC) PENANG DIVISION - THE 2019 NATIONAL BUDGET

MTUC Penang Division wishes to express its appreciation with regards to the Pakatan Harapan government's budget declaration to undertake a review of all labour legislation affecting the country's workers - a committment that was never made by the previous government!

Whilst welcoming the said budget undertaking it is our view that it would be appropriate, for the government, to form a labour law reform commission compromising of labour law practitioners from the workers movement, employers, the bar council and others.

Given the fact that there has never been an attempt to undertake a complete revamp of the existing  labour legislations in the past,  we are convinced that a commission, mandated to overhaul the labour laws of the country, would be in order.

Laws, such as the Industrial Relations Act 1967, the Employment Act 1955, the Trade Union Act 1959, the Social Security Act 1969 etc, needs to be placed under a microsopic review so as to ensure that our government confirms with internationally accepted labour standards.

As an example, as to how out dated we are, is the Termination & Lay Off Regulations 1980 which has never seen a  change over the last 38 years! Under the said regulation workers who are terminated on account of a retrenchment exercise as an example are only entitled to a severance payment of: -

* 10 days wages for each year of service if employed for 12 months or more but less then 2 years

* 15 days wages for each year of service if employed for more then 2 years but less then 5 years and

* 20 days of wages for each year of service if employed for 5 years or more service.

This is only an illustration of the unjust labour protection that is accorded to the working population of the nation. It is , therefore, our demand that a labour law reform commission be instituted with the objective to review the existing labour laws of the country.

We, in the MTUC, are not jumping in joy with the announcement of a minimum wage of RM1,100 effective 1.1.2019! Our demand has always been, and we will never compromise on the issue, that the minimum wage cannot be lesser than RM1500.00! On this issue we must state that we are are disappointed, with the lack of political will by the Pakatan Harapan, on the matter.

The Hon. Minister's announcement that an Appeal Indistrial Court would be constitued is welcomed. As a matter of fact such a proposition was formulated, by industrial realtions practitioners, for a long time. 

In conclusion we wish to record our appreciation to the government's proactive measures to assist the B40 citizens of the country all of whom are from the working class.

K.Veeriah
Secretary
MTUC Penang Division
016 4184520
2.11.2018



Friday, November 2, 2018

Malaysia :::"monopolisation and manipulation" of recruitment of workers from Bangladesh.

PRESS STATEMENT FROM MTUC PENANG DIVISION

MTUC Penang Division refers to the FMT  posting of today, with regards to the "monopolisation and manipulation" of recruitment of workers from Bangaldesh, and is shocked with  the revelation that Malaysian politicians and officials were paid bribes in the employment of workers from that country. It is also shocking that even Human Resoucres managers were bribed in the exercise!

We take cognisance of FMT's posting, citing the Daily Star newspaper of Bangladesh, as the source in the said matter.

According to the said newspaper's report the then home affairs minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi placed the monopoly, given to an IT company Synerflux, under the Official Secrets Act of our country.

MTUC Penang Division had registered its objection, to such an unjustified abuse of the home minister's power even then - see FMT posting of 17.3.2016 "Placing workers related contract under OSA a smoke screen".

In the light of this latest exposure MTUC Penang Division calls upon the authorities to, immediately, commence investigations to identify the goverment officials, human resourses managers and anyone else who were implicated in the matter. And, in our view, such investigations must include the then home minister YB Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and even government officials who have left service.

If the Daily Star of Bangladesh's report is of substances,  it would stand as testimony to the fact that workers of that country were subjected to exploitation that can only be best described as bonded labour and, that too, for the enrichment of politicians and civil servants of Malaysia.

MTUC Penang Division, having taken notice that the Dhaka High Court of Bangladesh, has ordered that an inter ministeral committee be form to investigate the matter with a deadline of 6 months hopes that the same urgency be adpoted by our government in the matter.

In conclusion MTUC Penang Division wishes to extend our salutations to the Daily Star newspaper of Bangladesh for its exposure of the said issue.


K.Veeriah
Secretary
Malaysian Trades Union Congress
Penang Division
016 4184529
1.11.2018


Friday, October 26, 2018

Hold negligent bosses responsible too, unionist tells minister

GEORGE TOWN: A unionist today urged the government to look into holding employers responsible for workplace accidents which occur due to negligence, saying present laws allow them to escape prosecution.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

PRESS RELEASE by MTUC Penang Division on the Bukit Kukus landslide tragedy

PRESS RELEASE by MTUC Penang Division on the Bukit Kukus landslide tragedy


MTUC Penang Division is horrified with the statement of the Mayor of Penang, Yew Tung Seang, that the road project must go on regardless of anything!

Is the Honourable mayor taking the position that irregardless of the real possibilities of workers dying on the job work must go on? Having regards to the fact that hill slope soil mitigative measures are non existence at the said worksite, let alone in all other hill slope developments,  it is beyond comprehension that the mayor thinks otherwise. His position is like saying that where even fools dare not venture he would do so! So much so for the concept of accountability that the Pakatan Harapan administration has been shouting about!

The misplaced stand of the Penang mayor notwithstanding MTUC Penang Division reiterates its demand that all work in progress on all hill slope development in Penang be stopped with immediate effect.

On this issue we demand that the Department Of Occupational and Safety (DOSH) issues work-stop order on, not only the worksite in question, but all other hill site development projects in Penang.This can be done because the jurisdiction to do so is vested with DOSH under the relevant provision of the Occupational Health and Safety Act  and not the Penang state government or the "decorated" mayor!

It is MTUC Penang's view that if the DOSH fails to institue such stop work orders it better close shop so that tax payers money can be utilised for other cause.

MTUC Penang Division also calls upon the Minister Of Human Resources, whose jurisdiction the DOSH is parked, to direct that the full provisions of the law be enforced without political inclination because the real concerns are the lives of workers. Any default in the matter would only be a manifestation of the Minister's, and the DOSH's, lack of conviction in the administration of the law in the matter.

K.Veeriah
Secretary MTUC Penang Division
016 4184520


Monday, October 22, 2018

MTUC Penang Division, having taken notice of Penang Forum's

MTUC Penang Division, having taken notice of Penang Forum's
statement that it had warned the state government of the dangers of hill clearings in Bukit Kukus and other areas, is of the view that the state government, the contractors and all other related agencies ought to be held responsible for its total disregard to such advice from experts in that field.

It is also our view that if such warnings had been heeded, and remedial course of actions instituted including suspension of work in progress, the tragedy of the unjust loss of lives of workers could have been avoided.

MTUC Penang Division also finds it completely unforgiving that slope mitigating measures were almost not put in place by those involved in such hill side projects as reported. The question that than needs to be postulated is this - who are those responsible and whether proper cause of action ought to be brought against them? We believe the answer is obvious.

MTUC Penang Division also wishes to make reference to the Penang chief minister's statement that heavy rain could have been the underlying cause to the landslide at Bukit Kukus. Our response to him is this- you do not need to be a rocket scientist to apprehend the reality of landslides on hill sites what more when the slopes are, as reported, 60-90 degress, during the year end rainy season! If only the state government and the relevant authorities had taken proactive measures, knowing that the rains would have an impact on the fragile hills of Penang, this tragedy could have been avoided. The Tanjong Bungah lanslide, that robbed the lives of 11 workers last year, ought to have been a lesson but the powers that be have, very regretably,  adopted a short term memory in the matter.

MTUC Penang Division is also dissappointed with the Penang Chief Minister's statement that hill slope work-in-progress would not be stopped. Given the fact that there has not been any soil erosion mitigating measures taken at any of the hill slope developments in the state as reported we are appalled at his stand on the matter. He, apparently, seems to be divorced from the possibilities of yet another unwarranted tragedy!

Given such circumstaces MTUC Penang Division calls upon the Department Of Occupational Health And Safety (DOSH) to institute action against those responsible for all or any breach of the law including the breach of the work-stop order so issued in regards to the work-site in question. DOSH should not, and cannot, compromise on the matter. We also implore upon DOSH to issue stop-work orders on all hill site developments in Penang until such time they comply with accepted soil erosion mitigating measures. We, further, call upon all other relevant authorities to commence their own investigations in the matter so as to ensure a holistic probe of this unwarranted tragedy.

We also wish to extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the famalies who have lost their loved ones.

K.Veeriah
Secretary
Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC)
Penang Division
21.10.2018
Contact- 016 4184520

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Bangladeshi, Indonesian found dead in Penang

MTUC Penang Division, at the on-set,  extends its heartfelt condolences to the famalies of today's landslide  at the construction site of the Paya Terubong by pass road project in Penang.

Given the fact that this comes close to another landslide diaster at Tanjung Bungah, where 11 workers became victims, MTUC Penang Division is of the view that  all construction works on hill sides and elevated slopes in the state be stopped immediately so as to ensure that such tragedies do not occur yet again.

MTUC Penang Division is given to understand that a stop-work order has been issued at the construction site concerned following an incident last Thursday. That being the case the question that we wish to pose is whether there was on-going work in breach of such stop-work orde? If the answer is in affirmative than it is our position that the full extend of the law be enforced onto those responsible. If the situation is otherwise our issue is why workers were housed on the slopes when they ought to have been provided safe and proper accomodation?

The latest tragedy clearly, in our opinion, shows the utter disregard for a safe worksite culture by employers who must be held accountable for the needless lost of lives of workers. We, therefore, demand that a commission of inquiry be formed to investigate the said tragedy.

Given this case MTUC Penang Division is of the considered view that the Penang state government ought to re-think its proposed Pan Island Link highway and transport projects. As we are given to understand a large portion of the said projects would entail massive work in the sensitive hill terrains including the Paya Terubong area. We confess we are no experts on such matters but we think the incidences of hill site landslides stand as indicators of the fragile challenges to the existing eco system of the island.

K.Veeriah
Secretary
MTUC Penang Division
016 4184520



Penang Fire and Rescue Department director Saadon Moktar said the victims were believed to be inside the containers used to house them at the site when the landslide occurred.
Saadon said so far, rescuers have found the body of a 35-year-old Bangladeshi and a 19-year-old Indonesian, while a Myanmar national was found alive with a broken leg.
"All the victims were found under the containers. There are six containers at the site besides several wooden shacks," said Saadon.
He added that three others have been reported missing by friends and family members, and rescuers are searching for them.
They have been identified as Baktiar and Suberi from Indonesia while the other is a Myanmar national.
Saadon also said that the actual number of people missing is unconfirmed, with some saying up to seven, and this will only be known once the operation is completed.
An Indonesian construction worker, who only wished to be known as Endo, 36, said three of his family members from Sulawesi are missing.
More than 100 rescue personnel were dispatched to the scene after receiving a distress call at 1.54pm.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

Court awards RM1.1 mil to 18 ex-workers of DRB-Hicom subsidiaries

 The Industrial Court has awarded about RM1.1 million in backdated wages and compensation in lieu of reinstatement to 18 ex-employees of two auto parts manufacturing companies although they were found guilty of misconduct.
Industrial Court chairman Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar found that the punishment of dismissal was too severe.
It was revealed that the managements of Hicom Automotive Manufacturers (M) Sdn Bhd and Isuzu Hicom (M) Sdn Bhd had discovered a video recording that was uploaded on YouTube and which they said had the potential to affect the reputation of the companies.
Both companies are subsidiaries of DRB-Hicom Group based in Pekan, Pahang.
The recording revealed that the 18 claimants had on May 3, 2013, attended a workers’ manifesto handing-over ceremony to a PAS candidate who was contesting the Peramu Jaya state seat within the Pekan parliamentary seat in the 2013 general election.
Some of the 17 claimants were wearing work uniforms with logos of their companies. The 18th worker was accused of leading the group in handing over the memorandum to the candidate.
The managements, which were unhappy with the workers’ explanations, then conducted a domestic inquiry before dismissing them on Aug 19, 2013.
They were charged with affecting the image of their companies and using outside influence to meet their industrial demand for higher wages and a better work environment.
Dusuki said the employers had proven their cases on the balance of probabilities but it did not warrant dismissal from employment.
“The court is entitled to substitute the punishment which it finds to be disproportionate to the misconduct,” he said in the 60-page award made available yesterday.
He said the court had also weighed the interests of the employees and employers before coming to a decision.
The court also noted that the workers had earlier attended an event organised by Rosmah Mansor, the wife of then prime minister and current Pekan MP Najib Razak, at their residence in Pekan.
Dusuki said dismissal was not appropriate after taking into account that most of the workers had served their employers for 20 years.
“Evidence also showed they had no past record of serious indiscipline with their employers,” he said, adding the misconduct was also not criminal in nature.
He said the workers had not criticised the then ruling federal government, Barisan Nasional or promoted Pakatan Rakyat in demanding their rights.
PAS was part of the loose PR opposition coalition in the 13th general election.
The workers will be receiving between RM24,000 and RM94,000 each in backdated wages and compensation in lieu of reinstatement.
Dusuki said sending them to work with their previous employers was not feasible in the interest of industrial harmony.
Lawyer R Chandra Segaran appeared for the workers while N Sivabalah and Raymond T C Low appeared for the companies.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

MALAYSIA:::50,000 Malaysians expected to be laid off this year

The job outlook for the country looks bleak, with over 50,000 Malaysians expected to lose their jobs this year.
Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsudin Baradan said the main sector to be affected will be manufacturing.

MALAYSIA:::Long hours don’t mean better productivity, says MTUC

 The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has brushed off the notion that longer working hours equate to increase in productivity among workers in a company.
MTUC president Abdul Halim Mansor said working hours as stated in the Employment Act 1955 only refer to the hours that have been set for a company to generate productivity for a business.
“Section 60A of the Employment Act states that unless under certain exceptions, an employee shall not be required under his contract of service to work more than 48 hours a week.
“If in the case the company needs to alter working hours to maximize their company’s productivity, it needs to write-in to the labour department head of director requesting for the hours’ change, but not exceeding 48 hours,” he told Berita Daily.
However Halim said under the Act, a mutual agreement may be set between the employee and the company to exceed eight hours working in a day but must not to exceed nine hours in any day and 48 hours in a week.
“A company can make their own productivity plans but must be in the confinement of the Employment Act and not solely on cutting the company’s operational cost,” he said.
Recently Malay daily Berita Harian reported founder and chief operating officer of Arba Travel & Tours Sdn Bhd Ammar Rosliza as saying that he valued the work stress issue and only allowed his startup company of 28 employees to work for six hours per day.
This is not to overstress his workers and to enable them to get by the rush hour traffic and spend more time with their family, he was reported as saying.
Measure to help workers
Halim also said measures continuing to protect employees must always be taken seriously by the government.
“Such as the implementation of the Employment Insurance Scheme (EIS) that can help especially retrenched workers, to get them back on their feet,” he said.
EIS is a financial scheme aimed at helping employees who have lost their job, and it is managed by Social Security Organisation (Socso). This scheme is meant to enable retrenched workers to gain monetary funds that would help them get back on their feet for up to six months.
The EIS will function similarly to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), where the contribution will go into a pooled fund and then the fund will be invested.
Under the EIS, employers and employees will contribute 0.2 percent each of an employee’s salary, which will go towards an accumulated fund, where retrenched workers could claim financial assistance from.
The scheme will start collecting from January 2018 onwards, involving 430,000 employers and 6.6 million employees
Extend EIS to foreign workers too
Meanwhile, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) urged the government to extend the EIS to foreign workers as they have the rights of an employee too much like the local workers.
Speaking to Berita Daily, PSM secretary-general A Sivarajan said EIS can help foreign workers to at least survive if their company goes bust, or if they have been retrenched before their contract agreement ends.
“Most of them have contracts up to two years but what happens when they get laid off before their contract ends?
“Though EIS scheme covers Malaysian employees, PSM also requests that the policy would be extended to the migrant workers too,” he said.
“If in any case that a company goes bust or winds up before the contracted term ends, rights of these migrant workers can be protected. And they would receive the balance of their total contractual wages,” he said.
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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

MALAYSIA:::2018 another tough year for job seekers

JOB seekers can expect another challenging year in 2018, an employers group predicted, as there will be few new openings and even some retrenchments despite better economic growth prospects.
The bleak outlook is partly driven by increasing operating costs due to the new Employment Insurance System (EIS) scheme and the new foreign worker levy policy, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) said.
About 50,000 workers are expected to be retrenched this year, MEF executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said.
He said university and college graduates entering the job market this year should consider the following advice:
* Be prepared to wait longer to land a job. Even medical graduates have had to wait nine months for a housemanship post.  
* Be adaptable and take what you can get, even if the job is not in your field of study.
* Be open to jobs for which you are overqualified, for instance, taking a diploma-level position even though you have a degree.  
Employers will experience higher operating costs due to the EIS which will require them to contribute 0.2% of each worker’s base salary towards the fund for payment of between three and six months’ pay for the worker in the event of retrenchment.
Also, the onus of paying the foreign worker levy is now on the employer instead of the employee.
This could mean better job opportunities for Malaysians with SPM-level qualification, Shamsuddin said.
The levy, which rate varies from sector to sector, could make it more attractive for employers to hire locals.
But whether locals would want the jobs is the question, said Shamsuddin, give that what will be available are mostly be low-skill positions in the services and manufacturing sectors.
Some 100,000 jobs could open up as the first batch of employees retiring at 60 are expected to leave the workforce in June.
However, with increasing operational costs, companies may opt not to replace the retirees they lose, Shamsuddin cautioned. Signs are that they may choose to try to increase productivity instead.  
“It’s going to be a more challenging job market next year as employers try to survive with the increasing cost of doing business,” Shamsuddin told The Malaysian Insight.   
“The number and type of entry-level positions are going to be the same for 2018 as they were for 2017 and 2016.”
Jobs lost
MEF has 22 member associations, which are inclusive of employers in the mining, hotels and banking sectors. Together, these sectors employ more than a third of the 6.4 million workers in the country’s formal private sector.
The past three years have been hard for employers and job seekers. 
Shamsuddin had previously reported that in 2015, about 44,000 workers lost their jobs.
In 2016, about 40,000 workers were retrenched between January and September.
 About 30,700 retrenchments were recorded as of September last year, said Shamsuddin.
 
Prime Minister Najib Razak expects the economy this year to grow by 5% to 5.5%  on the back of increased exports and higher domestic demand.
This projection follows higher than anticipated growth of 5.2% to 5.7% in 2017, and up from 4.2% in 2016.   
The Najib administration has also boasted that the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) has created 2.2 million jobs between 2011 and 2015.
The lost jobs are not just due to the weak global economy, which forced companies to scale down due to weak consumer demand.    
Higher growth has not translated into more jobs for locals, said MEF’s Shamsuddin, as a tilt towards more automation and digitisation means that companies will rely on fewer workers.
In the banking sector, Shamsuddin said the greater focus on mobile and online banking meant that more and more operations are in the purview of artificial intelligence.
As a result, banks collectively shed 18,000 positions in 2015, he said.
“This is happening in the insurance industry as well. They are saying that there are (digital) robots that can each do the work of 10 employees. So it reduces the jobs that are available.”
Federal lawmaker Ong Kian Ming pointed out that while 2.2 million new jobs were created between 2011 and 2015, the number of high skill jobs for university graduates had dropped.
Between 2006 and 2010, 587,000 high-skill jobs were created, said Ong who is Serdang MP. But from 2011 to 2015, that number fell to 501,000.  
Shamsuddin said the government’s push for companies to embrace digitisation, robotics and automation under Industry 4.0 will also result in fewer jobs.
“For every five jobs lost that are typically filled by men in Industry 4.0, only three new job will be created.
 “For every four jobs lost that are typically filled by women, only two new jobs will be created. That is the trend.”  – January 1, 2018.
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