Don’t give in to plantation owners, PSM urges Kula

PSM urges human resources ministry not to dance to tune of plantation owners intent on using cheap labour.

PETALING JAYA: PSM Central Committee member S Arutchelvam has deplored the racial slurs against Africans following a government proposal to bring them into the country to work in plantations.

“PSM rejects such racism against workers from African nations,” he said.

Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran said on Friday that he had discussed this matter with the ambassadors of African nations recently and was waiting for feedback.

He said foreign workers from Vietnam and Indonesia were no longer interested in working here as the salary received was not too different from their countries of origin.

Arutchelvam said Kula, despite coming from a plantation worker background, was listening too much to the demands of plantation owners clamouring for cheap labour.

“PSM is appalled by the minister’s statement because it encourages and endorses a cheap labour policy as the decision will only benefit the plantation owners, rather than the plantation workers.”

S Arutchelvam.

He said on June 16, PSM’s Plantation Workers Support Committee (JSML) held a meeting in Kerling, Selangor, attended by 80 plantation workers from around 40 estates in Malaysia.

“One of their main demands was that wages are low and that the minimum wage of RM1,100 is not enough. They collectively argued for a minimum wage of RM1,500 now.

“They also criticised the National Union of Plantation Workers for not raising wages in their collective agreement and falling back on the national minimum wage.”

Arutchelvam said Kula himself, in his statement, admitted the fact that even the Vietnamese and Indonesian workers felt the salary received here is not too different from what they would get in their own country of origin.

“Now, by bringing in foreign workers from Africa, the only motive can be to pay these workers a lower salary.

“Bringing in foreign workers and paying them low wages will only frustrate efforts to raise wages of the plantation workers currently working in Malaysia.

“This move will undermine and manipulate wage increases, through the demand and supply mechanism.

“It will also undermine union efforts to raise the wages of these plantation workers.”

Arutchelvam called on the minister to safeguard the interests of the majority working class in the country and “not dance to the tune of the plantation owners”.

He said these owners want to continue perpetuating cheap labour, rather than paying workers decent living wages.