Sacked and abandoned, foreign workers now living in squalor, says MTUC

The foreign workers in their hostel on the second floor of a shop lot in USJ, Subang Jaya.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) sounded the alarm today over what it said were cases of unfair termination and treatment of foreign workers during the movement control order (MCO) period.

MTUC secretary-general J Solomon said the group had documented three such cases yesterday in which 32 documented workers were terminated.

The workers, who had been employed by three small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are now living in cramped and squalid conditions in USJ, Subang Jaya, he said.

“They were not only left unattended in their hostel with no one to turn to, but also faced pay cuts for the days they did not work during the MCO,” he said in a statement.

The check, carried out by the MTUC-International Labour Organisation Migrant Resource Centre team, found that the workers from Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar were staying at a hostel on the second floor of a shop lot at the Taipan Business Centre.

Pictures and videos showed them squeezed into the small area, seated on thin mattresses on the floor.

Solomon said the team found that most of them had been sacked and had not been paid since the MCO began on March 18.

“They say the employer refused to tell them why the deduction was made from their salaries although the government had assured all that this would not happen during the MCO.”

He said the workers were now worried about how they would survive the next few months without salaries as they are unable to return to their countries due to travel restrictions.

MTUC has lodged an official complaint with the Labour Department, including the workers’ details and copies of their payslips and contracts.

“We feel that this is the beginning of a serious problem arising from the MCO involving migrant workers who will be ‘abandoned’ by unscrupulous employers, who must have made huge profits while giving them the minimum wage of RM1,100 per month,” Solomon said.

He warned that failure to nip the problem in the bud could result in bigger problems if foreign workers in the country are left with no income, food or shelter, and resort to unlawful activities in order to survive.

Adding that they had contributed to the nation’s development, he said the country owed it to them to ensure that they do not “lose out”.

“Let us treat them with dignity for the good name of Malaysia,” he said.

He also said MTUC had already received some 300 complaints about employees who had been retrenched or told to go on unpaid leave during the MCO, or who had had their salaries cut.