The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has taken Putrajaya to task for providing employers a grace period of three months for them to comply with new laws governing better housing for foreign workers.
The union “strongly rejects the government’s move to give employers three more months to comply with new laws which are to address the long-standing squalid living conditions of migrant workers, many of whom have been struck by Covid-19,” MTUC secretary-general J Solomon said in a statement today.
The Dewan Rakyat passed the amendment to the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 in July with the Dewan Negara endorsing the bill in September. Enforcement was scheduled for June 1 this year.
But Human Resources Minister M Saravanan yesterday said that companies were given more time or until Sept 1 to comply with the law.
“We simply cannot fathom why Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan would grant employers the grace period, especially when many Covid-19 cases currently reported involve migrant workers, not just those at immigration detention centres, but also the ones living at construction sites.
“It is totally irresponsible for the minister to expect Malaysians to continue living with the risk of foreign workers dormitories becoming new clusters of Covid-19 simply because he thinks that employers need more time to comply with laws that were passed 10 months ago,” Solomon said.
The union leader said the amendments to the act would end the problem of foreign workers living in cramped, grimy and squatter-like conditions either at “kongsi” on project sites, three-room terrace houses or apartments and shop lots.
Recently, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the cramped conditions in these lodgings make them hotbeds for an outbreak.
These accommodations, Solomon said, often housed as many as 20 people bundled into a single home in unsanitary conditions and lacking in basic amenities.
“This is exploitation of the highest order as migrants build some of the world’s finest apartment buildings in Malaysia, yet they themselves live in the most horrible conditions, often right next to the construction sites.
“Saravanan’s statement yesterday was made on the same day the Health Ministry said that short- and long-term solutions must be found to prevent foreign workers’ dwellings from becoming clusters of Covid-19 outbreaks and other virus-related diseases,” he said.
Solomon then urged Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to step in and ensure that the act is enforced on June 1 as scheduled.
“The failure to do so will be seen as a glaring weakness on the government’s part to contain Covid-19, merely to pander to the whims of unscrupulous employers,” he said. - May
Source : https://focusmalaysia.my/…/mtuc-slams-putrajaya-for-delayi…/