Facebook Twitter Google Plus Vimeo Youtube Feed Feedburner

ROS LBoard 1

CM’s myopic view of migrant workers

January 6, 2014

FMT LETTER: From Rani Rasiah, via e-mail

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s statement that the minimum wage should be restricted to Malaysians only and not extended to migrant workers is hugely disappointing. His reasoning that extending the minimum wage to migrant workers would increase business costs as well as result in a net outflow of money is lame and totally unacceptable.

Employers are under no compulsion to hire migrant workers and if indeed they are too costly, then bosses should stop hiring them! Or if it is felt that SMEs can’t cope with a larger wage bill, then the government should subsidise the SMEs in some way instead of asking workers to make a sacrifice.

Workers’ rights are not exactly a priority with bosses, and thus workers look to the government to intercede on their behalf. Unfortunately, the federal government has shown itself to be complicit with employers in the exploitation of both Malaysian and migrant workers. It is truly regrettable that Lim Guan Eng doesn’t differ from the federal government in this matter.

Instead of addressing the demands of Malaysian workers for better wages and working conditions, the government has flooded the labour market with cheap migrant labour. This has severely curtailed the bargaining power of local labour, and created youth unemployment among unskilled, academically poor Malaysian youths, a situation that is a contributing factor to social problems.

Creating an income differential by denying migrant workers the minimum wage will not change this situation. In fact it will only encourage companies to employ foreign workers because it is cheaper. Lim Guan Eng’s remarks are thus shortsighted and harmful for Malaysian youths and workers as well.

The situation is no better for the more than four million migrant workers whose exploitation is sanctioned by government policies. It’s officially known that workers passports are unlawfully held by bosses, a situation that places them in an extremely vulnerable position, and that has led to all kinds of abuses, including the crime of trafficking.

The PSM is against the exploitation of workers. Cost-cutting should not be at the expense of workers, whatever their nationality. All workers should be paid the minimum wage without further delay. Stop discriminating by skin colour and nationality!
Accord labour its due dignity! Legislate policy in the interest of society!

The writer is PSM central committee member and coordinator of its migrant desk


Comments

Readers are required to have a valid Facebook account to comment on this story. We welcome your opinions to allow a healthy debate. We want our readers to be responsible while commenting and to consider how their views could be received by others. Please be polite and do not use swear words or crude or sexual language or defamatory words. FMT also holds the right to remove comments that violate the letter or spirit of the general commenting rules.

The views expressed in the contents are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of FMT.

Comments