Sunday, January 27, 2013

'Minimum wage will reduce foreign force' (NST, 21/1/2013)

21/1/2013, New Straits Times

'Minimum wage will reduce foreign force'

JOHOR BARU: The implementation of minimum wages will ultimately reduce Malaysia's dependence on foreign workers in certain sectors which can be filled by local workers.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the phasing out of foreign workers was part of the transformation process for local workers.

"We want to reduce our dependence on foreign workers and the implementation of the minimum wage policy will make employers think of an alternative way to continue their business."

Dr Subramaniam said this included restructuring operations by relying on semi-automation or full automation to reduce dependence on unskilled labour.

It was reported that most petrol dealers have implemented the minimum wage as of Jan 1, throwing some 50,000 foreigners out of work.

Dr Subramaniam said there were no provisions in the law to allow companies to delay implementing the minimum wage policy.

The minimum wage policy requires companies to pay a minimum wage of RM900 in the peninsula and RM800 in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.

Dr Subramaniam said the ministry was discussing with employers issues relating to levy and allowances for housing and transportation of foreign workers.

"Employers want the levy and allowances to be borne by the workers. The cabinet will have to decide."

On the hiring of foreign maids, Dr Subramaniam said the ministry welcomed suggestions from all parties, including non-governmental organisations, for a better recruitment system acceptable to all.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Malaysia records most migrants death (The Himalayan Times)

"...Malaysia has emerged as a new death bed for Nepali migrant workers leaving Saudi Arabia far behind..." this is embarrassing, and Malaysian government need to respond.. 

 Malaysia records most migrants death

Added At:  2013-01-21 10:26 PM

KATHMANDU: Malaysia has emerged as a new death bed for Nepali migrant workers leaving Saudi Arabia far behind.

About 113 Nepali migrant workers lost their lives in the destination in the last six months, according to Foreign Employment Promotion Board.

Last year Saudi Arabia claimed 85 lives followed by Qatar (73), the United Arab Emirates (22) and Kuwait (seven). About eight Nepali migrant workers died in the South Korea — the most lucrative job destination among the preferred foreign job markets in recent days.

About 324 Nepalis have lost their lives in current fiscal year but Malaysia topped the list with most deaths, said acting executive director at the board Girija Sharma.

“But the data is of the recorded legal migrant workers, who have applied for compensation,” she said, adding that there is no record of death of illegal migrant workers.

The board provides Rs 150,000 compensation to family of deceased migrant workers.

However, migration experts believe that annual death at the foreign land is double than the recorded data.

“We do not have mechanism to keep accounts of dead bodies entering country from Tribhuvan International Airport, which is a shame,” said migration expert Dr Ganesh Gurung.

About 3.5 million Nepalis are believed to be working in foreign lands but only 2.5 million are legal. Of the one million undocumented migrant workers, nearly 200,000 are women migrant workers mainly based in Gulf countries.

According to the board, about 108 Nepali migrant workers have died in accidents. Death of about 64 Nepalis remained undiscovered as they died while sleeping. Such deaths were widely known as ‘silent killer’ among Nepalis working in the Gulf countries.

Likewise, some 47 Nepalis dies naturally and some 35 committed suicide. About 51 migrant workers died in road accidents, whereas work related hazardous claimed six lives since mid-July 2012.

The board’s record revealed that Nepalis death in the foreign land has significantly increased in the last three years. According to the board, about 466 Nepalis died in foreign lands in the fiscal year 2010-11 and some 643 in a year back.- The Himalayan Times, 21/1/2013, Malaysia records most migrants death

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cambodian investigative committee has found widespread exploitation and rights violations of Cambodian migrant workers in Malaysia

A Cambodian investigative committee has found widespread exploitation and rights violations of Cambodian migrant workers in Malaysia.

Chou Bun Eng, secretary of state for the Ministry of Interior, who headed the delegation, said the inquiry found four types of violations. “There are victims of sexual exploitation, human trafficking, overwork and no salary, and forced labor,” she said. 


The problem in Malaysia is that the LAW and the GOVERNMENT  are not interested in protecting migrant worker rights. When the migrant worker complaints and claims rights, many employer wrongly just terminate them - which is also what happens to local workers, but when it comes to a migrant worker, their employment pass/permit is also caused by the employer to be cancelled hence removing the ability of the migrant worker to remain (and work naturally) legally while his complaint is processed(by the Labour Department[now known as the Human Resource Department] or the Industrial Relations Department or some other). Now in all these avenues and process of justice, the presence of the complainant migrant worker is needed - If the migrant worker is not present, then the process stops...then the Labour or Industrial Court cases stops... 

Likewise with crime, how can the police continue with the can they prosecute when the victim (and even material witnesses) who are migrants are no more in Malaysia.

Malaysian Immigration Department and the Malaysian Government must ensure that no migrants ability to stay and work legally is extinguished if there is a pending claim, investigation, court proceedings, etc... Malaysia must change its attitude of using migrants just for labour - BUT disinterested in protecting their rights and welfare effectively. Malaysian government propagates this culture of exploiting migrant workers...when what is needed is DETERENCE that will ensure that NO EMPLOYER EXPLOITS WORKERS.  Sadly, the treatment of local workers is similar - Employers found guilty of not paying wages, for example, is ordered to pay the aggrieved worker JUST what should have been paid - SURELY, this is not right - and certainly is no real penalty - and would only encourage employers to go on cheating workers - for after all, if caught, all they need to pay is what they cheated the worker off in the first place. Rightfully, the law should require them to pay DOUBLE or maybe even TRIPLE plus maybe a sum for all the pain and suffering caused...

Southeast Asia

Inquiry Finds Abuse of Migrants in Malaysia

Gelia, a maid works in a condominium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, June 17, 2009. At least two women have died in the custody of recruitment firms prior to scheduled departures for Malaysia.

Theara KhounVOA Khmer
PHNOM PENH - A Cambodian investigative committee has found widespread exploitation and rights violations of Cambodian migrant workers in Malaysia.

The 22-member committee, which included government representatives, rights workers and other agencies, spent two days in Malaysia and found workers vulnerable to overwork, forced labor and sexual exploitation, among other dangers, as more and more Cambodians seek work abroad through negligent recruitment agencies.

Chou Bun Eng, secretary of state for the Ministry of Interior, who headed the delegation, said the inquiry found four types of violations. “There are victims of sexual exploitation, human trafficking, overwork and no salary, and forced labor,” she said.

The committee’s findings are consistent with those of other rights groups that have investigated the working conditions in Malaysia, where many Cambodian women from rural areas find work as maids.

“Some laborers have been tortured and abused by the house owners,” said Samleang Seyla, country director of Action for the Children. “For some others, their employers don’t pay their salaries.”

And there is little legal recourse for Cambodian workers in Malaysia if they aren’t paid or are abused, he said. “Some complain about the difficulty finding legal aid. In their view, they are unlikely to win a case, because they don’t have money; and second, it requires a lot of time. That’s why some of them come back to Cambodia without proper legal resolutions.”

Underage girls are also being sent to Malaysia to work, the committee found. At a rescue center in Malaysia, where 13 Cambodians were staying, the committee found a 17-year-old girl who had been working in Malaysia for two years—with no salary.

On the two-day visit, the delegation met with representatives of the Malaysian government, an employers association, the Cambodian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and with NGOs.

Cambodia issued a moratorium on the recruitment of workers for Malaysia in 2011, following widespread reports of abuse, including the deaths of some workers. Human Rights Watch said in a November report that prior to the ban, girls as young as 13 were being sent to Malaysia through recruitment agencies.

An Bunhak, chairman of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, who joined the delegation, said a lack of training and poor communication lead to misunderstandings between employers and workers. “For example, when they are asked to bring a bowl, they bring a urine pot,” he said. “This in turn makes their bosses angry, leading to violence.” 

Cases where underage girls are sent to Malaysia are rare, he said, and in those cases the companies responsible for recruiting them have been shut down.

An estimated 50,000 Cambodian workers, legal and illegal, are thought to be working in Malaysian households, factories and restaurants, earning between $135 and $200 per month.

In Malaysia, the committee interviewed Om Bopha, a senior adviser to the Cambodian Embassy in Malaysia, who said the Ministry of Labor is not properly monitoring the workers who are sent to Malaysia and that some Cambodian recruitment agencies send young workers or untrained workers, with little monitoring.

Chou Bun Eng said there is little follow-up on the transfer of workers, who are moved from a recruitment company in Cambodia to a receiving company in Malaysia and on to a local employer.

“In such hand-to-hand transfer, to what extent is there responsibility?” she asked.- VOA [Voice of America Khemer Southeast Asia News, 20/1/2013,
Inquiry Finds Abuse of Migrants in Malaysia

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Are they trying to deny migrant workers minimum wages?

Published: Wednesday January 16, 2013 MYT 7:39:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday January 16, 2013 MYT 7:47:13 PM

Special committee to find jobs for 50,000 foreign workers at petrol stations

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government has set up a special committee to find jobs for 50,000 foreign workers at petrol stations who are expected to be retrenched due to the recently implemented minimum wage policy.

Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam said that the committee, which is placed under his ministry, would channel the workers into other sectors that could afford to hire them at a minimum salary of RM900 for those working in the Peninsula, and RM800 in Sabah and Sarawak.

“The minimum wage policy is here to stay and we will not back-track,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Deputy Human Resource Minister Datuk Maznah was reported as saying that the implementation of the policy was expected to cause about 50,000 foreigners working in petrol stations nationwide to lose their jobs this year.

She said that this was because employers, facing an increase in labour costs, would promote self-service.
The monthly salary for a petrol station worker before this was between RM600 to RM700.

Subramaniam said this after making his keynote speech at the 2nd Datacentre Malaysia Conference and Exhibition at the Intercontinental Hotel here.

The two-day conference was attended by some 300 industry players from 15 countries.

The Minister said in his speech that the data centre industry was seen as a major contributor to the country's economy and is expected to contribute RM2.4bil to Malaysia's Gross National Income and create about 13, 290 jobs in the country by year 2020.

“Without a doubt, a thriving data centre industry in Malaysia will also provide the critical infrastructure needed to make the Malaysian digital economy work, in particular low latency from devices to the cloud,” he said, adding that the country's strong economy and stable geographical location made it a suitable data centre hub," he said. - Star, 16/1/2013, Special committee to find jobs for 50,000 foreign workers at petrol stations

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fight the attempt of some employers to get migrant workers to pay levy...

Come 1st January 2013, workers in Malaysia should have started receiving minimum wages of RM900 for those in Peninsular Malaysia, and RM800 for those in East Malaysia, but alas many employers are trying to evade paying Minimum Wages. For Malaysia, who never had 'minimum wages', this would be the first time that the government had to step in through laws to require employers to pay their workers a minimum wage. The call for minimum wages have been made by workers and trade unions for a long time, but finally the government decided to move when their own survey of salaries of Malaysian workers in 2009 revealed that employers were unjustly paying workers low wages. The National Employment Returns 2009, 34% of 1.3 million workers in the study earn less than RM700. The poverty income line for 2009, for Sabah (RM1048) and Sarawak (RM912), whilst for Peninsular Malaysia it is RM763. Malaysia's average poverty line income then was RM800. - Charles Hector Blog

In Malaysia, the employment laws clearly prohibit discrimination of workers based on nationality, and clearly and justly, when we talk about minimum wages, we are talking about Basic Wages, i.e. work for 8 hours per day, not including rest days, public holidays, overtime, allowances like shift allowances and other benefits. The Human Resource Ministry for a long time was wrongly allowing some employers to recover levy payments and other payments, which in law were not permissible lawful deductions, and finally as of 1st April 2009, employers were no longer allowed to make such wage deductions to recover levy that employers have to pay the government when they choose to employ a migrant worker rather than a local worker.

The rationale behind getting employers to bear the levy was to discourage them from employing foreigners.... - Bernama, - Star, 16/4/2009

Sadly, again some employers are trying to change the law yet again, and this government having been shown to be pro-employer may again discriminate against migrant workers. Remember that migrant workers in Malaysia do not have the freedom of association, and as such have no one to lobby for their rights, save for the Malaysian Trade Unions and civil society organisations. Migrants in Malaysia can join trade unions, but they cannot hold office in these trade unions and cannot on their own form trade unions. With the advent of the 'contractor for labour system', many migrants are today no more employees of the principal or the factories where they work. Effectively, their right to join trade unions and benefit from Collective Bargain Agreements have been substantially diminished. Factories and employers complain that the Malaysian government has made it even more difficult for them to hire workers as their own employees - but some good employers still do, as a matter of policy, ensure that all workers working for them are their employees.

We need to fight these trend of evading employment relationship - by the using of workers not my employees. In the struggle for worker rights, we need to fight attempts to 'divide and exploit'... and ensure that all workers are treated as workers irrespective of nationality, etc...

Monday January 7, 2013

Industries welcome ‘let workers pay levy’ suggestion


IPOH: Various industries have welcomed a suggestion that foreign workers' wages should include their levy, transportation and allowances for accommodation.

It would be less taxing on their respective companies or employers, said Federation of Malaysian Manu-facturers Perak branch chairman Datuk Gan Tack Kong, referring to a suggestion by MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.

“The implementation of the minimum wage policy is already stressful to most companies. There are even companies offering foreign workers wages of more than RM1,000.”

“There are also workers who can claim overtime and their wages can be doubled,” he said.

He said several multinational companies had told him that they were doing the best they could for their workers.

Real Estate and Housing Deve-lopers Association Malaysia Perak branch chairman Datuk Francis Lee Yew Hean said he concurred with Dr Chua's suggestion.

”Whether it's accommodation or transportation, all costs are incurred by the employers and we should recognise this,” he said.

However, he stressed that companies which were capable of providing accommodation, meals and transportation together with the wages should do so.

Federation of Malaysian Vegetable Growers secretary-general Chay Ee Mong said the suggestion was acceptable as most foreign employees were given other benefits like insurance. He also pointed out that most foreign workers in farms were earning more than locals as accommodation was provided for them.

“They stay in a group and can save by cooking and sharing their meals and there's no need to fork out extra transportation costs,” he said.

Batu Pahat Chinese Chamber of Commerce president Gan Eng Huat said it would be great if the Govern-ment agreed to the suggestion.

Gan said the furniture industry was among those most affected by the policy.

Citing an example, he said a furniture manufacturer here had about 1,000 foreign workers and with the new policy, had to pay each of them an extra RM300 to RM450. - Star Online, 7/1/2013,Industries welcome ‘let workers pay levy’ suggestion