KUALA LUMPUR: A cost of living allowance (COLA) of RM300, 98 days’ maternity leave, 7 days’ paternity leave, 30 days paid leave for Muslim workers to perform the Haj and housing allowances based on the cities are among the sweeping labour reforms sought by the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC).
These are among the proposals MTUC has submitted to the Government which is in the midst of reviewing three key labour laws as promised by the Pakatan Harapan in its 14th General Election manifesto.
MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon said the labour laws in Malaysia had become archaic since most of the legislations were promulgated in the fifties and sixties.
“The environment has changed over the years, and there is far greater recognition about human dignity, human values, and workers rights. It is long overdue for a comprehensive overhaul of various labour laws.
“We thank the Human Resources Minister (M.Kulasegaran) who has initiated the Labour Law Reform under the new Government which MTUC has been championing since the1970s,” he said here today.
At the labour day celebrations on May 1, Kulasegaran said labour laws which would see amendment to provide better protection for workers were the Trade Unions Act 1959, the Occupational Safety and Heath Act 1994, the Industrial Relations Act 1967 and the Employment Act 1955.
The government was expected to table the amendments at Dewan Rakyat’s second sitting this year which will begin on July 1.
The MTUC's proposals, apart from increasing the minimum wage, includes:
• Maternity leave to be raised from 60 days to 98 days, and paternity leave of 7 days;
• Both domestic worker and foreign workers to be covered under the Employment Act;
• A 15-minute break for every two hours of work, to enable workers to do light stretching exercises to improve workers health and reduce medical cost;
• Medical examination, consultation and all treatments to be borne by the employer;
• Where there are more than 100 employees, the employer is to provide a child care centre within the vicinity of the company. Alternatively, pay an allowance of RM300 as child care subsidy for children aged 7 years and below, up to a maximum of 5 children;
• The employer is to provide a safe and hygienic room for lactating mothers;
• Increased sick leave of 30 days (currently 15) and 60 days hospitalisation irrespective of their years of service. The worker can utilise un-used sick leave for hospitalisation in addition to the 60 days hospitalisation;
• A Cost of Living Allowance of RM300 per month;
* Termination benefits shall be a minimum of 2 months for every year of service irrespective of the number of years of service;
• All Muslim workers be granted 30 days paid leave to perform haj; and
• Housing allowance of RM300 to workers in urban areas or alternatively to provide subsidy on housing loan interest rates for those earning less than RM10,000.
Meanwhile on union membership which stands at only about 6 per cent of the workforce today, Solomon said MTUC had proposed that union membership be made mandatory for every worker, and every worker had a right to be represented by the union in employment issues.
Solomon said Malaysia’s aim to achieve a high income nation not only needed quality workers but also quality employers as the workers wellbeing and dignity were important for increased productivity.
“The MTUC is confident that the Government and employers will seriously consider the above proposals. The need to bridge the income gap cannot be prolonged and all stakeholders need to change their mindset in sharing the wealth of the nation equitably as every Malaysian needs to contribute towards the progress of the nation.
“Workers too should change their work culture and behaviour in view of the need for Malaysians to grow and to have a share of the fruits of the high income nation,” Solomon said, adding that they had waited 60 years to see the labour law reform.