Home Civil Society Voices 2013 Civil Society Voices Stop exploitation: Implement minimum wage now!

Stop exploitation: Implement minimum wage now!

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Rani Rasiah condemns the government’s heavy-handed action in dealing with a Nepali migrant workers’ protest against the non-implementation of the minimum wage ruling.

Recron workers picketing
Recron workers picketing

We condemn the heavy-handedness of the government in dealing with the protest of Nepali migrant workers over non-implementation of the minimum wage in furniture manufacturing factories in Johore and a textile company in Negri Sembilan.

The demand of the affected 5000-over largely Nepali migrant workers is for the minimum wage of RM900 to be implemented as promised by the Malaysian government to the entire Malaysian workforce. All employers, except for the 635 companies that applied for and were granted a six-month deferment, are required to implement the minimum wage ruling from January 2013. As such, what is criminal in the demand of the protesting workers?

Instead of taking to task the errant employers, the government has ganged up with them against the workers. The migrant workers have been arrested and roughed up. Yesterday over 100 workers were arrested purportedly to prevent a riot from taking place. It is a shame that the police, instead of playing their role of keeping order, have resorted to forcefully preventing the industrial action of the workers against their exploitative employers. In Nilai, the police went into the hostel with the Bosses to ask the workers to go back to work. A police report has been lodged by PSM on this incident as well as a letter to the Minister concerned.

It is shocking that the measures adopted to deal with the now-foiled Sunday rally referred to the deployment of riot police, roadblocks, and illegal assembly notices, as if dealing with a bunch of dangerous criminals. There was not a single mention of the only action needed to resolve the dispute according to Malaysian law i.e the implementation of the minimum wage law by the companies employing these workers!

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The furniture industry which is said to be heavily dependent on migrant workers contributes RM7bn to the economy. Recron Malaysia, the Negri Sembilan textile and polyester manufacturer which pays its migrant workers between RM240 and RM400, is linked to Ambani, India’s richest man. In approving additional migrant workers for the furniture industry, Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister remarked that a shortage of workers could lead to companies going bankrupt thereby affecting the industry and the national economy. What then but a greed for higher profits, explains the denial of the minimum wage to these obviously ‘indispensable’ workers?

We ask the Human Resources Ministry to come to the defence of all the affected migrant workers who have been victimised for highlighting the denial of the minimum wage of RM900. The ministry should take action against the employers for violating the minimum wage ruling.

Stop the exploitation! Implement the minimum wage now!

18 March 2013

Rani Rasiah is a PSM Central Committee Member

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