KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Trade Union Council called on the government to relook into hygiene at workers dormitories and work place safety to mitigate fresh Covid-19 outbreaks in the country.
MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon said authorities must carry out inspections at work places and foreign workers' dormitories to avoid new clusters of infection among the foreigners.
He said people were well aware that inspections on such premises by the Labour Department were crucial to eliminate hygiene and safety issues involving migrant workers.
"If you notice, besides the current Covid-19 spread among them, we have seen the resurgence of diseases like TB and dysentery which were not heard of for some time.
"It is clear that the various government agencies such as the Ministry of Human Resources, Immigration Department, Fire and Rescue Department and the Local Council have shirked their responsibilities to ensure these workers are given proper accommodation by employers, as stipulated by the Workers' Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990.
"They have not only failed miserably in terms of enforcement, but have also let down these migrants workers without providing proper conducive living environment. Some are housed in cramped, overcrowded dormitories which are shared by workers when they are on or off shift," he said.
Solomon added that labour inspectorates should play their part in protecting workers by monitoring and enforcing compliance to the provisions of labour laws and standards, if employers fail to meet the requirements.
He said to prevent and eradicate unacceptable forms of work and workplaces, which was gross violation of fundamental human rights, both parties must have an effective collaboration.
"In the past, MTUC had many times urged the Labour Department to carry out collaborative inspection, but the response from them was very poor."
Solomon said the fresh cluster of 44 new Covid-19 cases at a construction site in Kuala Lumpur was evident that inspection of work places and foreign workers dormitories must be expedited nationwide.
He also seconded the Malaysian Medical Association's suggestion to do more than just screening, as it may give workers and employers a false sense of security.
"Like MTUC, the MMA has also observed that the majority of foreign workers stay in overcrowded, cramped dormitories, construction site cabins, or hostels in shop lot rooms, terrace houses or apartments, where physical distancing may be almost impossible to observe.
"As such, MTUC fully supports MMA president Dr N Ganabaskaran's call on employers to improve these poor living conditions and merely testing the employees would be insufficient to prevent an outbreak," he said, adding that employers, the Human Resources Ministry and the Health Ministry must join hands to come up with specific guidelines and procedures at workers' quarters.
"Now with the latest warning coming from an umbrella body of medical practitioners in this country, hopefully the employers and government will take seriously the potential risk at work sites and workers' dormitories," he added.
Source : https://www.nst.com.my/…/urgent-need-inspections-foreign-wo…