Sunday, December 20, 2020

TOP GLOVE :::The Death Of Yam Narayan Chaudhary And The Underlying Issues.

 Press Release By The Malaysian Trades Union Congress, Penang Division - The Death Of Yam Narayan Chaudhary And The Underlying Issues.

Yam Narayan Chaudhary, in our view, is a victim of the unacceptable working conditions under which migrant workers toil to eke out a living. Prolonged hours of work, coupled with a neglect of decent living conditions, thus, exposing migrant workers not only to infection of the  Covid-19 virus but other communicable infections, probably, has to be the underlying factor for his death.

He was employed as a security guard in Top Glove. It has been reported that, due to the absence of thermal scanners, security guards, like the late Yam Narayan Chaudhary, had their work load increased. Without speculating, as to why the lack of thermal scanners, we are inclined to conclude that the company had neglected it's duty of care in the matter. 

Having registered the single largest Covid-19 cluster, the Teratai cluster that has been attributed to cramped dormitories, it would have been expected of the  company to implement all reasonable precautionary measures to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Sadly, that seems to be the down side in the circumstances.

According to the Director-General of the Ministry Of Health, Yam Narayan Chaudhary, was brought to the hospital with category 4-5  condition described as pneumonia with lung fibrosis. On this issue what needs to be addressed is why such an inordinate delay in  sending him for medical attention? It is our view that the company has to be held accountable on the issue as they are vicariously liable in the matter. 

It may well be argued that the death, of Yam Narayan Chaudhary, is an isolated case but to us it is a wake-up call for all employers. Employers, so much as they are in pursuit of enhancing out-put, cannot abrogate their responsibilities in providing a safe system of work. And, by extension, conducive living conditions as dictated by internationally accepted standards and the Workers' Minimum Standards Of Housing And Amenities Act, 1990. 

Migrant workers' activist, trade unions and concerned civil society organisations have been advocating for fair wages, safe working conditions and decent housing of workers, even before the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic. That legitimate demands were never heeded by the government or the employers. On the contrary such advocates were tagged as "trouble makers"! Having regards to the prevailing state of affairs such advocacy was never misplaced! 

It is, thus, our demand that both the government and employers discard the primitive notion that workers are a mere component of the means of production. It is also our contention that workers should not be "dehumanised" on account of maximising profits unless both the government, and employers, elect to stand accused of being modern day slave masters!

To the family of Yam Narayan Chaudhary MTUC Penang Division extends our heartfelt condolences. May his soul rest in peace in the arms of God almighty.

K. Veeriah 


MTUC Penang Division

016 4184520


Thursday, December 3, 2020

Workers' Minimum Standards Of Housing And Amenities Act 1990 And Deplorable Living Conditions

 Workers' Minimum Standards Of Housing And Amenities Act 1990 And Deplorable Living Conditions 

After visiting the Top Glove migrant workers dormitories, the Minister Of Human Resources is reported to have said that he found it deplorable. If that be the case, in the  the world's largest manufacturer of rubber gloves, we are left wondering whether that would be the state of affairs in all other sectors that depends on migrant workers to roll-out production.

MTUC Penang Division wishes to commend the Minister's statement that, the entire labour department's resources would be mobilised to investigate the matter.

So much as we appreciate the Minister's concerns what needs to be postulated is whether his ministry would also adopt the same approach in all other sectors be it manufacturing, plantation or construction. 

Though, the Workers' Minimum Standards Of Housing And Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446), has been around for a long time it is sad that the government has only recognised it's usefulness in reference to the Top Glove Teratai Covid-19 cluster. The announcement, by the  senior minister Ismail Sabri Yaakop, that the said Act would be enforced immediately is a manifestation of a knee jerk political response whilst the said law ought to have been enforced much, much earlier. 

Clearly, the Covid-19 pandemic has confirmed the concerns of trade unions, and activist, of the unacceptable living conditions provided to migrant workers. When such concerns were, then, raised by activist we were accused of peddling half truths or, worst still, down right lies. 

Now that, the Human Resources Minister has seen it for himself, we hope that affirmative action would be forthcoming without fear or favour irregardless of the clout that big corporations so yield. The Honourable Minister's pronouncement should not, we hope, be another public relations exercise - all full of sound and fury but signifying nothing!

In conclusion we also call upon the government to pay attention to the living conditions of the undocumented migrant workers and domestic workers who have not being given due recognition to their contributions in sustaining economic activities of the nation. They remain ostracised only on account of their non-documented status. And, in the case of domestic workers, their exclusion from protection under the prevailing legal framework. 

Though, that be the case there is no justification for the government to deny them their basic right to acceptable living conditions, access to health care and social security protection.

Our nation cannot lay claim, to being part of the international community, if it abrogates it's moral obligations to the millions of non-documented migrant workers who have been toiling to sustain the country's economic transformation. They, too, are an integral composition of the nation's economic endeavours and, as such, ought to be accorded due recognition per se. 

K. Veeriah


Malaysian Trades Union Congress 

Penang Division 

016 4184520