MTUC tells govt not to delay enforcement of new workers’ accommodation law, employers should be ready by now

MTUC Secretary-General J. Solomon described MEF’s claim as mere lame excuses and a continuation of a vicious cycle by employers to deny workers their basic right to decent living conditions. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
MTUC Secretary-General J. Solomon described MEF’s claim as mere lame excuses and a continuation of a vicious cycle by employers to deny workers their basic right to decent living conditions. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 — The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) today urged the government to reject any moves by employers to delay the enforcement of the amended Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 which came into force on September 1.

MTUC Secretary-General J. Solomon said this in response to the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) claim that the industries would still need up to a year extension to meet the new rules for the minimum standards if they provided housing for their employees.

He also described MEF’s claim as mere lame excuses and a continuation of a vicious cycle by employers to deny workers their basic right to decent living conditions.

“MTUC finds the MEF threat that employers will be forced to retrench workers if they are made to comply with the new laws as vindictive and another attempt to arm twist the government into giving priority to employers’ profits over ensuring workers have basic liveable accommodation.

“The MEF’s unprincipled stance on the enforcement of amendments to the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 merely reinforces the uncaring and inhumane mindset of many employers in their treatment of workers in this country,” he said in a statement. 

Pointing out that MEF and the business community were quick to claim they would incur heavy losses each time they were asked to do their bit to improve the livelihood of workers, Solomon said in reality employers have continued to reap huge profits by hiring unskilled local and migrant workers on meagre salaries with little benefits.

“In pushing the government to hold back the enforcement, MEF is in fact asking for such exploitation to continue unimpeded. 

“The Human Resources Ministry must not succumb to such unethical demand and needs to issue a strong statement,” he said.

Solomon also stressed that the aforementioned Act was passed by Parliament in July 2019 and employers were given more than 12 months to take the necessary measures to comply.

Yet, he said most employers took a lackadaisical approach and did little to ensure workers were provided with accommodation according to the standards prescribed in the new law.

“In May, the employers were granted a further three month reprieve to do that, but again, there was no urgency to address the issue, despite several migrant workers quarters becoming Covid-19 clusters.

“Now, one week into the month of the new law being enforced, MEF is claiming that its members were not briefed about the regulations by the government and that its members were taken by surprise.

“The excuses given by the MEF are hollow and reflects a systemic discrimination and exploitation of workers, especially migrants, by employers in this country,” he said.

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