Bank workers’ union chief insists HR minister of postponing Act 446 despite clarification

Saravanan clarified on May 10 that Act 446 is still in force. — Bernama file pic
Saravanan clarified on May 10 that Act 446 is still in force. — Bernama file pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — The National Union of Bank Employees (Nube) secretary-general J. Solomon today continued to accuse Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan of delaying amendments to the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities (Amendment) 2019 (Act 446).

According to Solomon, the amendments were supposed to take place in February 2021 but the minister was acting arbitrarily.

Though the minister made a clarification earlier this month, the unionist insisted there was a postponement and that it goes against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s decree.

“The announcement by Saravanan on April 22 to postpone the enforcement of Act 446 until December 2021 clearly runs counter to the said law promulgated under the Emergency Ordinance by his Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

“The minister appeared to have taken on himself to reverse the enforcement of Act 446 which was proclaimed by the YDPA. He has arbitrarily agreed for the enforcement of the law to be postponed until the end of the year despite the rising numbers of Covid-19 clusters involving workers.

“We feel this is a serious violation by the minister that goes against the federal constitution and the laws of the country,” he said, adding that Saravanan must explain his actions.

Act 446 was introduced to address the poor living conditions of foreign workers in Malaysia as the often-cramped accommodation was seen as a hotbed of Covid-19 infections.

It was implemented to address housing management issues through stricter enforcement.

Saravanan had said in April the government agreed to relax the enforcement of rules governing the workers’ housing standards.

The move was welcomed by the Malaysian Employers Federation whose president said it would provide more time for employers hiring local and foreign workers to ensure they were vaccinated and avoid being slapped with heavy penalties under Act 446.

Saravanan clarified on May 10 that Act 446 is still in force and has not been suspended as claimed.

The minister also said that efforts were being taken to improve workers living conditions and enforcement operations were constantly being carried out to ensure compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of Covid-19.

He said Solomon was spreading fake news and slandering him, which prompted him to file a police report against the unionist.

Solomon today acknowledged the police complaint, but denied he was making false statements.

“The minister lodged a police report against me for allegedly slandering him over the issue. I have told the police that I did not slander him but merely asked him to reinstate the enforcement of Act 446.

“The police report made against me is mala fide and malicious therefore I shall continue to defend my stand,” Solomon added.

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