MTUC: Reject call to delay enforcement of amendment protecting workers’ accommodation

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KUCHING, Sept 7: MTUC is calling on the Ministry of Human Resources to reject any moves by employers to delay the enforcement of the amended Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 which came into force on Sept 1.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general J Solomon in a press statement opined the reasons cited by the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) in urging the government not to enforce the new law on workers’ accommodation are simply lame excuses and a continuation of a vicious cycle by employers to deny workers their basic right to decent living conditions.

“It must be pointed out that every time employers in Malaysia are asked to do their bit to improve the livelihood of workers, the MEF and the business community are quick to claim it would force them to incur heavy losses.

“The reality is that for decades, employers have continued to reap huge profits—not by investing in new technology or automation—but by hiring unskilled local and migrant workers on meagre salaries with little benefits.

“Migrant workers suffer a double whammy as apart from the low pay, they are also forced to live in cramped and unhygienic conditions with little legal protection.

“The amendments to the act are meant to put an end to foreign workers living in squalid conditions in “kongsi” (shared quarters) at project sites, three room-terrace houses, apartments or shop lots.

“Often as many as 20 people are stuffed into single units and live in deplorable conditions and structures that lack basic amenities,” he pointed out.

Solomon added amendments to the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 were passed by Parliament in July 2019 and employers were given more than 12 months to take the necessary measures to comply.

However, he claimed, most employers took a lackadaisical approach and did little to ensure workers were provided with accommodation according to the standards prescribed in the new law.

Thus, he called on the federal government to show strong political will to enforce the amendments to the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990, not only for the sake of the workers, but also for the sustainability of its trade with countries that abhor forced labour. — DayakDaily