KUCHING, April 8: Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) warned today that there will be serious social problems ahead if the government fails to stem the unfair termination and treatment of foreign workers arising from the Movement Control Order (MCO).
MTUC secretary-general J Solomon disclosed that the group had documented a case involving the termination of 32 documented migrant workers in USJ, Selangor who were employed by three small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
“They were not only left unattended in their hostel with no one to turn to, but also faced pay cuts for the days they did not work during the MCO.
“After interviewing them, we found that most of them were terminated from their employment without being paid their salaries from the time the MCO was implemented.
“They say the employer refused to tell them why the deduction was made from their salaries although the government had assured all this will not happen during the MCO,” he revealed in a press statement.
Besides this, Solomon highlighted that the MTUC-International Labour Organisation Migrant Resource Centre team, which visited the migrant workers from Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar at their hostel located at Taipan Business Centre, found the workers were living in cramped conditions with poor hygiene.
“This could start a Covid-19 cluster and lead to serious repercussions for the country’s health system. This treatment is deplorable in a country although they pay a decent levy to the government annually,” he added.
One of the workers’ biggest concerns, Solomon pointed out, was how they were going to survive for the next month or two without salaries as they will not be able to return to their respective countries due to worldwide travel restrictions.
MTUC has lodged an official complaint with Labour Department, including details of all the workers and copies of their pay slips and work contracts.
“We feel that this is the beginning of a serious problem arising from the MCO involving migrant workers who will be ‘abandoned’ by unscrupulous employers who must have made huge profits while giving them the minimum wage of RM1,100 per month,” he added.
With a few million documented workers in the country, he warned that if the relevant ministries fail to address this, the country could face some serious social problems.
“Once left unattended with no income, food and shelter, they will have no choice but slip into the general populace and resort to unlawful activities to survive,” he added.
Reminding that foreign workers have come from afar to make a living and in the process help the nation develop, Solomon opined the country owed it to them to ensure they do not lose out.
“Let us treat them with dignity for the good name of Malaysia,” he emphasised while urging employers to show a sense of humanity by making sure the workers have a decent place to stay and food to eat as long as they are here.
MTUC also urged the Human Resources Ministry to work with the Foreign Affairs Ministry to get the cooperation of the diplomats to help handle their workers at this extraordinary time.
“This is an urgent matter and cannot be postponed. How Malaysia handles migrant workers during these moments will be closely monitored globally for obvious reasons,” he added. — DayakDaily