MTUC presses Putrajaya on labour law reforms

Solomon said labour laws in Malaysia that were first mooted in the 1950s and 1960s were now considered 'archaic'. — Reuters pic
Solomon said labour laws in Malaysia that were first mooted in the 1950s and 1960s were now considered 'archaic'. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — Workers rights group the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has submitted its proposals to Putrajaya that is currently reviewing key labour laws.

MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon said in a press statement today that labour laws in Malaysia were first mooted in the 1950s and 1960s, and were now considered “archaic”.

“The environment has changed over the years, and there is far greater recognition about human dignity, human values, worker rights. It is long overdue for a comprehensive overhaul of various labour laws.

“We thank the Minister of Human Resources who has initiated the Labour Law Reform under the new Government which MTUC has been championing since 1970s,” he said.

The proposals submitted by MTUC include:

1. Raising the threshold for coverage under the Employment Act 1955 from a minimum salary of RM2,000 a month to RM10,000;

2. Maternity leave to be raised from 60 days to 98 days, and paternity leave of 7 days;

3. Both domestic workers and foreign workers to be covered under the Employment Act;

4. 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;

5. Medical examination, consultation and all treatments to be borne by the employer;

6. 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 RM 300 as child care subsidy for children aged 7 years and below, up to a maximum of 5 children;

7. The employer is to provide a safe and hygienic room for lactating mothers;

8. Increased sick leave of 30 days (currently 15) and 60 days hospitalisation irrespective of their years of service. The worker can utilise unused sick leave for hospitalisation in addition to the 60 days hospitalisation;

9.  Cost of Living Allowance of RM 300 per month;

10. Termination benefits shall be a minimum of 2 months for every year of service irrespective of the number of years of service;

11. All Muslim workers be granted 30 days paid leave to perform Haj; and

12. Housing allowance of RM300 to workers in urban areas or alternatively to provide subsidy on housing loan interest rates for those earning less than RM10,000.00

The three laws being reviewed by the Pakatan Harapan administration are the Employment Act 1955, Industrial Relations Act 1967 and Trade Union Act 1959.

At the same time, MTUC also proposed a mandatory membership for every worker to join a union to circumvent the issue of only six per cent workforce membership in unions.

“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

“We have waited for 60 years to see this labour law reform and let’s do it together and none should disrupt this golden opportunity that we strongly believe will realise our dream,” he added.

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