On International Migrants Day, Tenaganita laments sorry fate of foreigners on Malaysian soil

Executive Director Glorene A. Das speaks during the Tenaganita press conference in Petaling Jaya December 17, 2019. ― Picture by Choo Choy May
Executive Director Glorene A. Das speaks during the Tenaganita press conference in Petaling Jaya December 17, 2019. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 — Tenaganita commemorated International Migrants Day today by lamenting what it views as the inhumane treatment of migrant workers here.

In a press conference, Tenaganita executive director Glorene Das highlighted cases of abuse faced by migrants, such as their exclusion from legal rights and protections.

“Domestic workers provide invaluable services in the home, by caring for children, the aged and infirm, and managing the household, thereby enabling Malaysians to enjoy a much higher standard of living, and at the same time, making it possible for many mothers to join the workforce.

“Yet Malaysian labour legislation does not even recognise them as workers, referring to them as domestic servants and excluding them from many provisions of the Employment At 1955.

“The celebration of International Migrants Day will remain meaningless for the thousands of domestic workers who toil for long, unregulated hours, often underpaid or unpaid, deprived of proper food, a decent place to stay, a rest day in a week, unable to contact family and friends, subject to verbal and physical abuse and confined to the houses of their employers,” Glorene said.

She said Tenaganita regularly handled cases of domestic workers who were not paid wages, sometimes for years, and lamented that their pay was still below the Minimum Wages Order.

Glorene said, as of September 2019, Tenaganita has handled cases from 55 women and 45 men in the Klang Valley, and 48 women and 28 men in Penang, all over unpaid wages.

“If we count only new cases, there are about 77 cases of domestic workers that Tenaganita has received in 2019. It is only the tip of the iceberg of abuses and violations perpetrated on domestic workers in Malaysia, who work in isolation without any oversight by the Labour Department,” she added.

Glorene also targeted the Home Ministry and Human Resources Ministry, questioning why domestic worker abuse remained prevalent.

“Does this situation not point to serious flaws in the current procedures of the Home Ministry, which issues the work permits, and the Human Resource Ministry which is responsible for the protection of workers?” she questioned.

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