MTUC Sarawak: Reform Sarawak Labour Ordinance now to bring Sarawak workers’ rights on par with West M’sia

Participants representing more than 20 trade unions and NGOs across Sarawak pose for a group photo.

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KUCHING, June 14: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) Sarawak urges the Premier of Sarawak and the federal Human Resources Minister not to further delay amendments to the Sarawak Labour Ordinance (SLO).

In a statement, MTUC Sarawak division secretary Andrew Lo asserted the SLO must be updated immediately as Employment Act (EA) amendments allowing workers in Peninsular Malaysia to enjoy better working conditions, were passed in Parliament in March this year.

“The SLO must be updated immediately so that Sarawakian workers are not discriminated against just because we are living in different geographical areas in Malaysia.

“When the maximum weekly work hours in Peninsular Malaysia has been reduced to 45 hours, SLO still requires workers to work 48 hours.

“When the maternity leave in Peninsular Malaysia has been increased to 98 days, SLO sticks to 60 days,” he said.

Lo also highlighted that under the EA, workers enjoy seven days of paternity leave and are protected from forced labour, discrimination in the workplace, and sexual harassment, but Sarawak workers are again left out.

“Sarawak is lagging behind in labour law reform. We call on both federal and State governments to negotiate and accelerate the amendments to SLO, as the Bill should have been tabled at the federal Parliament by the sitting starting on July 18, 2018.

“This is an urgent matter that the governments must pay attention to,” Lo said this at a press conference after the consultation meeting on SLO organised by the Labour Law Reform Coalition (LLRC) on Saturday (June 11).

Meanwhile, at the press conference, LLRC chairperson N Gopal Kishnam asserted that workers across Malaysia must stand in solidarity with workers of Sarawak and Sabah who have been left out of benefits afforded by the recent EA amendments.

“We are of the view that in the future all three laws (EA and two SLOs) must be tabled at the Parliament as a “bundle” to eliminate discriminatory practice,” he added.

According to the press release, 40 participants from more than 20 trade unions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) across Sarawak actively participated in the meeting.

The participants also urged the government to act swiftly to protect domestic workers from sexual harassment. — DayakDaily