Thursday, February 25, 2016

Registration of Undocumented Migrant Workers Start on 15 February -

Monday, 15 February 2016

Rehiring costs RM1,200

PETALING JAYA: The online registration of illegal foreign workers, which begins today, will require employers to pay RM1,200 as registration and administrative charges for each worker.

The cost does not include fines for immigration offences, levy, visa, processing fee and foreign worker work permits.

In total, employers will pay between RM1,395 and RM3,485 for each worker. 

Immigration Department director-general Datuk Sakib Kusmi said the charges were RM800 for registration and RM400 (administrative).

“These charges are not imposed by the Immigration Department but were set by vendors that had been selected,” he told mStar Online.

Two firms have been selected to handle applications for workers from Indonesia and Myanmar respectively while a consortium of three companies has been tasked to process applications involving other countries.

According to a department circular, the RM400 charge will only be imposed after the application of the foreign worker is successful and will be used by the vendors to cover the cost of getting the levy, visa and permit.

The department will impose other charges separately for matters like the levy.

The Government has recently announced new levy rates – RM1,500 for those in the plantation and agriculture sectors; and RM2,500 in manufacturing, construction and service.

Levy for domestic workers remained at RM410.

But the implementation of these rates have been deferred until Feb 20 for the Government to seek feedback from industry players.

The Immigration Department would also impose charges for visa, which varies among the countries, permits (RM60) and a RM125 processing fee.

On Saturday night, the Home Ministry issued a statement to explain that the Illegal Immigrant Rehiring programme, which ends on Dec 31, was to give an opportunity for those working illegally to get valid permits and for employers to meet labour demands.

Strict conditions will be imposed on both workers and employers.

“Those who don’t qualify will be deported to reduce the number of illegal workers in the country,” the statement said.

The ministry said the rehiring programme was aimed at meeting the labour demand in various sectors.

It will also allow the authorities to determine the actual number of illegal workers in Malaysia, currently estimated at two million.

“The effectiveness of the programme will be evaluated in the first three months and improvements will be made.”

The ministry warned of stern action against employers who continued to hire illegal foreign workers after Dec 31.

Workers must have originally entered the country legally, must be employed and must not have a criminal record to qualify for the rehiring programme.

It does not cover workers from non-permitted sectors or those frozen by the Government.

The online application can be made on

Employers can also call 03 - 8880 1555. - Star, 15/2/2016

Friday, 26 February 2016

Slow start for amnesty drive

Running helter-skelter: Suspected illegal foreign workers fleeing the Selayang day market after spotting DBKL enforcement officers in this file photo.
Running helter-skelter: Suspected illegal foreign workers fleeing the Selayang day market after spotting DBKL enforcement officers in this file photo.

PETALING JAYA: Companies chosen to carry out the latest amnesty for illegal foreign workers admit the programme is off to a slow start.

But they expect numbers to pick up in the months ahead of the Dec 31 deadline, despite criticisms of the costly RM1,200 administrative fee to register each worker.

To date, 2,500 employers have registered to legalise 5,922 Indonesians with International Marketing and Net Resources Sdn Bhd (Iman), which is mandated by the Government to handle amnesty for Indonesians.

Ezreeq Mohd Nor, Iman marketing and Communications manager, said they had targeted to register between 500,000 and one million Indonesians working illegally.

He said registrations were slow when the Rehiring and Relocation Programme started on Feb 15 and attributed this to poor publicity.

“There’s hasn’t been a huge campaign but numbers are increasing this week,” he said when met at Iman’s headquarters in Wangsa Maju.

Bukti Megah Sdn Bhd, which runs the one-stop centre to legalise workers from Myanmar, has so far
received 232 applications from 138 companies.

The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) said many employers and foreign workers had bitter experiences of being cheated by agents under the previous 6P programme (2011 to 2014) and were not confident with the latest amnesty initiative.

Secretary-general N. Gopal Kishnam said the Government should drop the RM1,200 fee which is imposed in addition to a levy for each worker.

Gopal said there was an estimated four million undocumented workers in Malaysia and the process of legalising and repatriating them should not be driven by profits by private companies.

“The Government should make the process less expensive. The levy imposed by the Government should be sufficient,” he said.

Ezreeq said to date no employers had complained about the RM1,200 registration fee and said unlike 6P, no agents were used by his company.

“Employers and workers can be assured they will not be cheated,” he said.

MyEG, which is among a consortium of three companies tasked with registering illegal workers from other countries, argued the RM1,200 was justified.

A spokesman for the company said the charges were not only for online registration of employers and workers but other management services.

These include the verification of the data provided, biometric and photos of both employer and worker, liaising with local authorities and embassies, medical checks and issuance of various documents.

She said the fee was also inclusive of “monitoring if foreign workers turn rogue again since they already have a previous record of being an illegal” and deporting those who don’t qualify for amnesty.

MyEG also provides a dedicated mobile SIM card, which is activated for one year, with unlimited free messaging to their hotline for each foreigner registered.

She said there was also a call centre manned by foreigners of various nationalities to manage worker issues, including unpaid wages and abuse. - Star, 26/2/2016

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Joint Statement(12/2/2016) by 87 organisations -Employers should pay the Levy – Not Migrant Workers, Immoral for Malaysia to take from Workers to overcome national economic problems

Joint Statement – 12/2/2016

Employers should pay the Levy – Not Migrant Workers
Immoral for Malaysia to take from Workers to overcome national economic problems

We the 87 undersigned civil society organisations, trade unions and groups are shocked by the news that the Malaysian government is increasing the migrant worker (foreign worker) levy to more than double the current rate, which since January 2013, had to be paid by the migrant workers themselves.  Prior to that, it was paid by the employer of migrant workers, whereby the introduction of the levy then was to deter employers employing migrant workers, rather than local Malaysian workers. This was also stated by the then Malaysian Labour Director-General Datuk Ismail Abdul Rahim who was quoted saying that, “…The rationale behind getting employers to bear the levy was to discourage them from employing foreigners…”  [Star, 16/4/2009]

Migrant Worker Levy Rates Drastically Increased as of 1/2/2016

The Malaysian government recently announced that, as of 1/2/2016, annual levy payable for each migrant worker is increased to RM2,500 (manufacturing, construction and service sectors) and RM1,500 (plantation and agriculture). Before this, the annual levy payable for a Migrant Worker in the Manufacturing sector (RM1,250), Construction sector (RM 1,250), Plantation sector (RM590), Agricultural sector (RM410) and Services sector (RM1,250 – RM1,850) which was so much lower.

This new rates in comparison greatly burden the migrant worker in that the annual levy payable per migrant worker will now be doubled, or even tripled. 

For example, a migrant worker in an electronic factory, classified under the manufacturing sector, who paid a levy of RM1,250 before, will now have to pay double, RM2,500. A worker earning a monthly minimum wage of RM900, which is the wage many migrants are paid, will now have to pay more than RM200 for levy, leaving them with only less than RM700 as their monthly wage, not taking into account all other wage deductions. This is most unjust.

It is unconscionable for the Malaysian government to target migrant workers in the hope of making extra income of RM2.5 billion for the country from the 2.1 million documented migrant workers in Malaysia to rescue Malaysia from its current financial woes.

Easily Exploited With Almost No Access to Justice Makes Migrant Workers Vulnerable to Employers

When Malaysia, introduced Minimum Wage, employers and employer groups complained that their labour cost had gone up, and they could not afford it. In response, the Malaysian government decided that employers no longer need to pay the migrant worker levy, thus the obligation to pay the levy fell on migrant workers themselves.

Contract substitution remains a problem. Migrant workers agree to come to work in Malaysia, but when they start working, the migrant workers complain that they are now paid lower than what they had agreed to in their country of origin with the employer and/or his agent. Many employers have also used the Minimum Wage of RM900, as the standard wages they pay migrant workers.

Because of the debt incurred by migrant workers in coming to Malaysia to work, which is about RM5,000 and the practice of employers and/or agents holding on to their passports and work permits, migrant workers find themselves in a form of bonded labour, and not able to do anything else but just survive.

With the very low wages, they receive; many are forced into doing overtime sometimes 4 hours per day, working on rest days and even public holidays to make ends meet. Malaysian law stipulates a draconian overtime limit of 104 hours every month. This means, in effect migrant workers can be forced to work for 12 hours a day because in many workplaces doing overtime is no longer an option that workers can refuse. As such, migrant workers and even local workers can be considered to be engaged in some form of ‘forced labour’.

For migrant workers, access to justice remains a myth for many. When they complain about rights violations, what happens in many cases is that they are terminated, and their permit to work and/or remain in Malaysia is also terminated. This causes migrant workers to be easily controlled and exploited cheaply. They do not even have the option to claim justice.

Employers Contribute Less to Migrant Workers Income

Under the Malaysian law, employers are required to contribute 13% of the monthly income, inclusive of overtime earnings, to the Employees Provident Fund, this requirement is not applicable to the migrant workers. This makes migrant workers cheaper.

Further, since many employers do not take in migrant workers directly as their own employees, but take and use them as workers who are supplied by the labour suppliers - legally known as the contractors for labour - it effectively prevents these supplied migrant workers the right to join in-house trade unions. Even if they do join national/regional unions, they simply will not be able to enjoy the extra rights and benefits that come by reason of a Collective Bargaining Agreement between Union and Employer, simply by reason that they are not recognised as employees. Calls for the abolition of the ‘contractor for labour system’ by trade unions and civil society have gone unheeded by the government. 

Malaysia recognizes that households earning less than RM4,000 a month requires financial assistance, and local workers do get a small assistance from the government through the BR1M program – but migrant workers are excluded from this benefit.

Weakening Ringgit Causes Migrants to earn 20-40% less.

Whilst, the financial problems Malaysia is facing, coupled with the increased cost of living - new taxes, increased transportation costs, and the weakening of the Malaysian Ringgit in relation to currency of the country of origins of migrants – it is the migrant worker who suffers the most.

The weakening ringgit also means that the money migrant workers send back home to their families is now much less and this has a serious impact on their families/dependents and the ability to settle their debts back home. It was recently reported, that "For instance, employees from Bangladesh used to make 44 taka for every RM1, but now it is about 17 taka. The drop is very drastic, more than 40%."Even the ringgit to the Indonesian rupiah has seen a drop in value by 20%," (Malaysian Insider, 5/2/2016)

Unjust to impose New Financial Obligations On Migrant Workers Already In Malaysia

It is totally unjust for Malaysia to impose new financial obligations by law on migrant workers, which did not exist when they agreed with their employers to come and work in Malaysia for 3-5 years. Any new obligations especially of payment by migrant workers should only apply to new migrant workers who have yet to agree to come to Malaysia to work – certainly not to those who are already here and working.

The Malaysian Trade Union Congress(MTUC) and employer groups have been informed that employers will now have to  pay migrant worker levy. This was also mentioned in a media report, which stated, ‘The FMM[Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers] said the government recently informed employers that the levy burden would be shifted back to them. (Star, 2/2/2016).

However, employer groups have started a campaign lobbying the Malaysian government to re-consider, and the Malaysian government has been reported as saying that they may re-consider. There is concern that this re-consideration may not just be about the amount of levy payable, but also the question as to who will have to pay the levy – migrant workers or their employer?

Therefore, we the undersigned

Call on the Malaysian government in the name of justice, to ensure that it must be the employers of migrant workers that should be paying this Migrant Worker levy – not the migrant workers;

Call on the Malaysian government to also reconsider the increase of the levy rate, at this time whilst Malaysia, and especially small Malaysian businesses, are affected by the economic crisis and the effect of the falling Malaysian ringgit.

Call on the Malaysian government to increase the Minimum Wage of all workers in Malaysia to RM1,200 – RM1,500, to compensate for the increased cost of living in Malaysia, and the falling value of the Malaysian ringgit with  reference to the currency in migrant worker’s countries of origin.

Call on the Malaysian government to abolish the ‘contractor for labour’ system, and ensure that all workers that are working in a workplace are all recognised employees of the said workplace, and are treated equally as workers.

Charles Hector
Mohd Roszeli bin Majid
Pranom Somwong

For and on behalf of the 87 organisations, trade unions and groups listed below 

Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma)
Asia Monitor Resource Centre(AMRC)
Asia Floor Wage Alliance
Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)
Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters- Myanmar
Asociación de trabajadoras del Hogar a Domicilio y de Maquila, ATRAHDOM, Guatemala, Centro Amercia. 
Bangladesh Groep Nederland (Bangladesh Group The Netherlands)
Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies- BILS
BLAST,  Bangladesh

Boat People SOS (BPSOS)
Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) Asia Pacific Region
Campagna Abiti Puliti – Italy
Clean Clothes Campaign International Office(CCC)
Club Employees Union Peninsular Malaysia(CEUPM)
Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA)
Crispin B. Beltran Resource Center (CBBRC),Philippines
CWI Malaysia (Committee for Workers International)
Defend Job Philippines

Fair – Italy
Foundation For Women, Thailand 
Garment and Allied Workers Union, India
German Clean Clothes Campaign
Homeworkers Worldwide, United Kingdom
IDEAL (Institute for Development of Alternative Living)
IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC)
Institut Rakyat
International Labor Rights Forum

Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
Jatio Shromik Federation (JSF), Bangladesh
Karmojibi Nari (KN), Bangladesh
Kesatuan Pekerja-Pekerja Perodua
Kesatuan Sekerja Industri Elektronik Wilayah Selatan, Semenanjung Malaysia (KSIEWSSM)
Knowledge and Rights with Young people through Safer Spaces (KRYSS)
Labour Behind the Label
Labour Studies and Action Centre (CEREAL), Mexico
Legal support for Children and Women (LSCW), Cambodia
MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)

Malaysian Election Observers Network
Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC)
MAP Foundation (Thailand)
MHS Aviation Employees Union
Migrante International
Mission for Migrant Workers
Myanmar Migrants Rights Centre
NAMM (Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia)
National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF), Bangladesh
National Union Employees in Companies Manufacturing Rubber Products (NUECMRP)

National Union of Transport Equipment & Allied Industries Workers (NUTEAW), Malaysia
NLD LA Malaysia
North South Initiative
Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute(OHMSI)
Panggau Sarawak
Paper Products Manufacturing Employees’ Union of Malaysia (PPMEU)
Parti Rakyat Malaysia(PRM)
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
Pax Romana ICMICA
Peoples Service Organisation (PSO)

Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
Pertubuhan Angkatan Bahaman, Temerloh, Pahang, Malaysia
PROHAM -Persatuan Promosi Hak Asasi Manusia
Radanar Ayar Rural Development Association, Myanmar
Repórter Brasil
Safety and Rights Society, Bangladesh
Sahabat Rakyat
Schone Kleren Campagne (CCC Netherlands)
SEA Women's Caucus on ASEAN
Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW), Philippines

Sramik Nirapotta Forum, Bangladesh
Tenaga National Berhad Junior Officers Union (TNBJOU)
TENAGANITA Women’s Force, Malaysia
Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia
The Collectif Ethique sur létiquette, Clean Clothes Campaign French
Think Centre, Singapore
UNI Global Union
War on Want
WARBE Development Foundation, Bangladesh

WH4C (Workers Hub For Change)
Women Peace Network-Arakan, Myanmar
Women Rehabilitation Center (WOREC), Nepal
Workers Assistance Center, Inc (WAC) , Philippines
Vietnamese Women for Human Rights
Yaung Chi Oo Workers Association-YCOWA
Yayasan Lintas Nusa, Indonesia