Home Media statements Ministry’s proposal to withhold 20% of wages violates workers’ rights

Ministry’s proposal to withhold 20% of wages violates workers’ rights

File photo: sulekha.com

Join us on Telegram and Instagram for the latest.

Aliran is appalled at the recent proposal by the Ministry of Human Resources for employers to deduct 20% of their foreign workers’ basic salaries, keep it in Socso (ie the Social Security Organisation) and return it to the workers when they leave, upon the expiry of their work permits.

According to the media reports (here and here), the proposal is aimed at preventing foreign workers from fleeing and employers from incurring losses on investments in bringing in workers should they abscond.

Apparently, the minister said that the issue of foreign workers fleeing was among major problems faced by employers and that this proposal could help address the situation. The minister was reported as saying that the proposal was submitted to the National Labour Advisory Coun­cil last week, and it is open for discussion among stakeholders.

It is currently unclear how this proposal came about, who exactly was consulted over this and how it fits into recommendations being worked on by the independent committee on foreign workers set up by the cabinet to streamline the policies and management of foreign workers

The proposal in itself seems to be a reactive response to an issue, and its implementation would be a gross violation of foreign workers’rights. It must surely contravene existing labour laws and international labour standards. The scales as they sit are tipped very much more in favour of the employer than the foreign worker. It is definitely not “a win-win situation for employers and workers’’, as described by the minister.

Although there is apparently an issue of some foreign workers fleeing and incurring losses to investments made by their employers, we must ask to what extent this happens and what causes foreign workers to flee from their employers.

READ MORE:  Addicted to easy profits off the back of cheap labour

Surely by now the ministry is aware of the vulnerability of foreign workers and the countless times they are exploited, ill-treated and abused by their employers and/or their agents. Implementing the proposal would only worsen the situation for the foreign workers on a variety of levels.

Aliran joins those advocating for a systematic and thorough review of labour migration. We strongly urge the National Labour Advisory Coun­cil and the stakeholders debating this proposal to see sense and set this proposal aside.

There is little question that a myriad of issues face our labour force, local and foreign, as well as, the employers. These issues, however, must be addressed in a manner that is comprehensive and fair.

Aliran executive committee
18 December 2018

Thanks for dropping by! The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

Our voluntary writers work hard to keep these articles free for all to read. But we do need funds to support our struggle for Justice, Freedom and Solidarity. To maintain our editorial independence, we do not carry any advertisements; nor do we accept funding from dubious sources. If everyone reading this was to make a donation, our fundraising target for the year would be achieved within a week. So please consider making a donation to Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara, CIMB Bank account number 8004240948.
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x