Don’t prioritise employers’ profits over workers’ welfare, MTUC tells Putrajaya

MTUC secretary-general J Solomon says employers had more than 12 months to prepare accommodations for workers.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has urged the government to reject pleas from employers to delay enforcement of new housing standards, saying such a move would amount to the exploitation of workers in favour of profit.

The amended Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 came into force on Sept 1, but the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) claims employers would be forced to retrench workers, among other things, in order to comply with the new law.

MTUC secretary-general J Solomon denounced any such claim, calling them “lame excuses” and an attempt to force the government into putting employers ahead of the welfare of workers.

“It is just another attempt to arm-twist the government into giving priority to employers’ profits over ensuring workers have basic liveable accommodation,” he said in a statement today.

Solomon said this is yet another example of how the MEF and business community claim they would suffer financial losses as a result of improving workers’ livelihoods.

“The reality is that for decades, employers have continued to reap huge profits – not by investing in new technology or automation – but by hiring unskilled local and migrant workers on meagre salaries with little benefits.

“Employers have been given ample time to comply, as the amendment was passed in July 2019 and enforcement delayed until this month,” he said, adding that employers had over 12 months to make the necessary accommodations.

Solomon also called for the government not to fall for the employers’ pleas on the deferment and instead, send a strong message to employers.

“Excuses given by the MEF are hollow and reflects a systemic discrimination and exploitation of workers, especially migrants, by employers in this country.

“The government, in particular the human resources ministry, must not succumb to such an unethical demand,” he said.

Solomon warned that the continued neglect of workers’ rights would be harmful to Malaysia’s economy as it would hinder trade relationships with foreign investors put off by forced labour practices.