Why not EPF, asks MTUC on proposal to keep 20% foreign worker wages

There are about 1.76 million foreign workers in the country, according to government figures.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has questioned Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran’s continued defence of a proposal to withhold one-fifth of the salaries of foreign workers.

MTUC secretary-general J Solomon queried Kula’s explanation that the move would ensure foreign workers returned home with some money.

Kula had said the move would prevent foreign workers from fleeing their local employers, adding that the money could be kept under the government’s compulsory work insurance scheme, the Social Security Organisation (Socso).

But Solomon said if the workers’ savings were of concern, it would be better for them to be included in the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

“Why burden them with 20% deductions from their savings? The minimum wage from Jan 1 onwards is RM1,100, and 20% is RM220.

“With EPF, the contribution is shared by the employer. If Kula wants to help the employer then the recruitment agencies must take responsibility because they are charging huge fees to the foreign workers.”

There are some 1.76 million foreign workers in the country, according to government figures.

Foreign workers are however not obliged to contribute to EPF.

Solomon said foreign workers were only interested in sending back every sen they earned to support their families back home.

“Many also need to send money back to repay the money they borrowed to pay for their travel and the huge recruitment agency fees,” he added.

Rights groups have criticised Kula’s proposal on the 20% salary deduction, saying it goes against human rights and encourages bonded labour.