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‘Stop sending workers until they have better rights in M’sia’

May 7, 2012

Tenaganita laments on absence of laws to protect migrant workers in Malaysia.

JAKARTA: Tenaganita executive director Irene Fernandez has made a statement criticising the Malaysian government and Malaysian employers in an interview with an Indonesian English daily on the issue of migrant workers in Malaysia.

In the question-and-answer article published Monday by The Jakarta Post, she had among other things lamented on the absence of laws to protect migrant workers in Malaysia.

“Migrant workers have been objects of exploitation, physical abuse, violence and rape in line with the emergence of care-giving industries and the privatisation of health care, which are part of the neo-liberal capitalism which has damaged Malaysia’s economic system and raised inequalities among migrant workers, mostly women,” she said.

The Indonesian government, she said, should not resume sending workers to Malaysia until the government and employers change their mindsets and make a particular law to protect them and their rights.

Fernandez said many employers have breached the immigration law in employing undocumented workers.

“In 2011, we recorded more than 1,500 cases befalling undocumented workers and 500 cases of employers’ violations of the immigration law. Most undocumented workers were deported after serving their jail sentence while most employers were cleared of charges,” she said.

Fernandez said labour and child trafficking as well as trade of babies has been rampant in the country over the past three years and, in Sarawak, women migrant workers who were victims of human trafficking were raped and forced to give birth.

She said Indonesian migrant workers, especially domestic helpers and gardeners, would continue to face troubles with their employers and the authorities because, among other things, the revised labour agreement between Indonesia and Malaysia does not identify their rights, the labour permit is still held by employers and not by the government, and the minimum wage is not set for new workers.

“I appreciate the Indonesian government’s policy not to resume the sending of workers until the bilateral agreement spells out workers’ rights and the recruitment system is revised to put workers and their employers in an equal position,” she said

The are about two million migrant workers from Indonesia who work mostly as domestic maids and labourers in the agricultural sector.

– Bernama


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