The employer allegedly wrongly deducted from wages of their employees to recover the levy they had to pay the government of Malaysia for hiring foreign workers.
The workers complained - and later referred the matter to the Labour Department - exactly what workers have to do when the employer violates their rights - wrongful deduction of wages, non-payment of wages/benefits, etc..
When these workers fought for their rights - and did what the Malaysian law required of them, the employer terminated them.
The employer also withheld the passports of these workers - which again is wrong. Will the Malaysian police/immigration department charge the employer in court for holding on to the passport of another? Why not? Is it because the UMNO-led BN government is pro-employer anti-worker? Charge the employer....
Myanmar workers: Passports returned minus February payTuesday, March 16th, 2010 11:06:00
KUALA LUMPUR: It was a bittersweet day for the 26 Myanmar workers who lost their jobs as waiters and waitresses at a Japanese restaurant and subsequently had their passports withheld by their former employers. They received their passports yesterday.
However, it came at a cost.
Their previous employer, Jogoya Restaurant based in Starhill shopping centre, is now refusing to pay the February wages owed to them, and is instead deducting the wages from their service points.
A meeting between the Jogoya management, the Myanmar workers as well as Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) officials, took place at the Federal Territory Labour Department office in Wisma Perkeso yesterday.
However, MTUC senior industrial relations officer Peter Kandiah told The Malay Mail it was not entirely a happy ending for the workers.
"At the meeting, the restaurant management stated they were willing to give back the passports. However, they are not willing to pay the workers their February salary," said Kandiah.
"They claim this is because the workers failed to show up for work during the period when they had protested against the restaurant's treatment of them."
Kandiah also argued with the restaurant management's stand that they were only willing to pay the return airfares for 10 of the Myanmar workers, instead of all 26.
The restaurant, he claimed, stated that the other workers have to fulfill the contract requirements, and hence they didn't qualify for the tickets.
"However, as the restaurant had already acted illegally by deducting the workers' levy, they should not be talking about breach of contract. They should pay for all their airfares," he said.Kandiah wants the Labour Department director-general to prosecute the restaurant management as he claimed they illegally and unlawfully deducted levy for the workers.
Kandiah is seeking a meeting with the department today.
Meanwhile, one of the Myanmar workers, Zar Ni Swe, said that despite the mess, she and her colleagues were grateful to get their passports back.
"At least I'm not afraid of being caught by the authorities without any identification documents on me. However, I still hope that the case can be resolved soon," she said.
The Malay Mail yesterday front-paged the plight of the 26 workers, who claimed that on March 2, they were given a week's notice that their services were no longer required.
Some were made to pay a RM450 levy to the restaurant, also a month's salary of RM150 as compensation for "previous mistakes" and immigration costs of RM150.
Those with no savings were told to work for another company until they paid their dues to get their passports back.
After receiving no help from the various authorities, the workers finally found support from the MTUC which referred them to the FT Labour Department.
The Paper That Cares was alerted to the development and last Thursday, the department sent five officers to the restaurant to get back the workers' passports but were unable to meet the management as well.
The Labour Department officers then instructed the restaurant to instead send its representatives to the department to return the passports, refund the deducted levies, to pay wages to the workers until March 15, and also provide their return air tickets.
The restaurant management met the department officers on March 12 to negotiate the department's demands. - Malay Mail, 16/3/2010, Myanmar workers: Passports returned minus February pay
You claim your rights - and your employer terminates your services & also do not to pay for their airfare back to their home country. Why? Because the employer alleges that the workers did not fulfill their contracts.
" Did not fulfill their contracts" - Well, was it not the employer who wrongly deducted wages? Was it not the employer that terminated their services when the took steps to claim their rights?
The law provides an avenue for workers to complain if they believe that their worker rights are being violated - and this is the Labour Department (Labour Court), or in the case of wrongful dismissal where one is seeking re-instatement - the Industrial Relations Department.
When a worker goes to the Labour Department, he lodges his complaint and his claim.
Labour Department informs the employer and seeks his response.
Labour Department tries to resolve dispute between employer and workers.
If 'mediation'/negotiations do not work - we proceed to the Labour Trial, where parties put forward their evidence (and challenge the other side's evidence), and at the end of the day, the Labour Court decides.
Then, if the court decides in favour of the workers - the employer will be ordered to do the needful.
If the court decides against the workers, that is it.
[Of course, parties have a right to then bring the matter to the High Court,...]
What must an employer do when workers claim their rights?
Certainly not terminate these workers - and, I believe, that the law must place a very high penalty (or even make it an offence) on employers who terminate their workers when they utilize the mechanisms available to claim their rights as workers.
What this Jogoya Restaurant did, as reported, is so wrong. Maybe Malaysians who are for human rights and worker rights should BOYCOTT Jogoya.until :-
a) All workers are immediately reinstated as workers without loss of benefits,
b) The employer returns all wrongful deduction from wages,
c) All these workers be allowed to work until at the very least the end of their contract period, and the employer pays for the necessary airfare back home, etc...
Since its opening in January 2006, Jogoya's flagship Japanese buffet restaurant on the Relish Floor of Starhill Gallery, Kuala Lumpur has attracted more than 1 million customers. With a large area of nearly 30000 square feet, Jogoya buffet restaurant in Kuala Lumpur can accommodate up to 580 guests at a time.
The whole interior design is made based on the 'flowing' concept and has a variety of dining area such as the disclosed area, semi-disclosed, private seats for couples and the VIP rooms.
Using the highest quality of ingredients (No Pork), the creative and skilled chefs at Jogoya have prepared more than 200 dishes of different style like Chinese, Western, Japanese, Malaysian and a lot of other styles. This has made Jogoya an irresistible place to enjoy delicious cuisines.
Recently, we have added Haagen-Dazs ice-creams to our dessert menu as we want to serve you the best quality ice-creams. Besides, we also provides unlimited liquor such as wines and cocktails and you do not need to pay extra for it.- Jogoya Website
See earlier posts:-