Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Make COVID-19 an Occupational Disease under Law to ensure social protection for all workers and their families (47 HRD groups)


Media Statement – 2/4/2020

Make COVID-19 an Occupational Disease under Law to ensure social protection for all workers and their families

We, the 47 undersigned groups, organizations and trade unions, in response to the advent of Covid-19, an infectious disease that can easily be transmitted to other human persons, including workers, urge that the Malaysian government immediately recognize and make Covid-19 an occupational disease.

By so doing, workers who are infected by Covid-19 at their workplace, even during this period, will become entitled to social protection accorded by social security schemes and laws.

For those who die, by reason of getting infected by Covid-19 at the workplace, will also be easily entitled to compensations, and their spouses/children/elderly parents will also become entitled to survivor benefits including pensions.

Employers have a duty in law to ensure a safe working environment, and will also now be required to ensure that the workplace is safe from Covid-19 and/or any other dangerous communicable diseases, especially those can result in death or other permanent disabilities.

With the movement control order in place, which still requires workplaces that provide for essential services to operate, workers traveling to and from work, and at these workplace are everyday at risk of being infected by the Covid-19 virus, which to date has also resulted in many deaths worldwide, and as such workers need protection, and this can be done by specifically classifying Covid-19 as an occupational disease.

Now, recently even workers in charge of Human Resources, are required to travel and return to their workplaces for the purposes of arranging the monthly payment of salaries to workers.

Workers who are also needed (or forced) to stay in particular accommodation by employers, should also be covered. This also ought to be considered an ‘occupational disease’, and be accorded all the needed social protection.

While the Covid-19 pandemic highlights the inadequacies in occupational safety and health laws, and also social security laws for workers, it is time to remedy these failings.

One must note, that in the past, there has also been allegations of some workers forced to house together or work together has ended up contracting life threatening ailments like tuberculosis from other workers they are made to stay and/or work with.

All such ailments, not just Covid-19, which can cause death or other disabilities that may impact these workers future employment and income, ought to be specifically classified as occupational diseases, and workers should be accorded all benefits under social protection laws.

These laws should apply to all workers, including migrant workers and domestic workers.

In Malaysia, local workers are generally covered by the Employees' Social Security Act 1969, which provides better protection to workers and/or their families compared to the Workmen’s Compensation Act 1952 that generally covered migrant workers. There must be equal protection for all workers, even domestic workers.

For now, The Human Resource Minister, can use the powers conferred by subsection 32(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 [Act 514], and declares that Covid-19 be recognized as an occupational diseases. Other changes and/or amendments to law to ensure equal protection to all workers may require Parliament.

Therefore, we 

-          Call on Malaysia to  immediately make Covid-19 an occupational disease, especially if it is contracted at the workplace, on journey to and from work, and in worker accommodations provided by the employer;

-          Call on Malaysia to amend all relevant worker social security law, to ensure appropriate just remedy to workers, their families and/or dependents especially in the event of death, or disability impacting future capacity to work and/or earn an income;

-          Call on Malaysia to ensure that employers are legally bound to provide a safe working environment, including safety from infection from human to human contact at the workplace for diseases like Covid-19,

-          Call on Malaysia and all employers to ensure that occupational safety and health of all workers are always prioritized and protected.    

Charles Hector
Apolinar Tolentino 

For and on behalf of the following 47 groups

WH4C(Workers Hub For Change)
Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC)
Clean Clothes Campaign Network (CCC)
Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) Asia Pacific Region
Labour Behind the Label, United Kingdom
Odhikar, Bangladesh
National Union of Transport Equipment & Allied Industries Workers (NUTEAW), Malaysia
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
Timber Industry Employee Union Sarawak (TIEUS)
MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
North South Initiative(NSI)
Kesatuan Sekerja Industri Elektronik Wilayah Selatan, Semenanjung Malaysia (KSIEWSSM)
Sarawak Banking Employees Union
MTUC Sarawak (Malaysian Trade Union Congress – Sarawak)
Malayan Technical Services Union           
Timber Employees Union of Peninsula Malaysia
Malay Forest Officers Union      
PKNS Union       
Sabah Timber Industry Employees Union
National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (NUFAM)
Legal Action for Women, United Kingdom
Global Womens Strike, United Kingdom
Malaysian Automotive Industry Workers Union Federation
Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
National Union of Banking Employees(NUBE)
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor                       
Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, United Kingdom
Association of Human Rights and Defenders and Promoters- HRDP(Myanmar)
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India
MARUAH, Singapore
IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh
Legal Awareness Watch (LAW), Pakistan
Asociación de Trabajadoras del Hogar a Domicilio y de Maquila–Atrahdom, Guatemala
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), India
Marvi Rural Development Organization (MRDO), Pakistan
Onward Consulting, Malaysia    
Women of Colour Global Women Strike, United Kingdom
Payday, United Kingdom
Women Against Rape (UK)
Bangladesh Group Netherlands
International  Black Women for Wages for Housework
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, UK
Asosasyon ng mga Makabayang Manggagawang Pilipino Overseas in Malaysia (AMMPO-SENTRO)
European Rohingya Council
WinVisible (women with visible & invisible disabilities)
Campaign Abiti Puliti (Italian CCC)
Collectif Ethique sur l'étiquette (France)

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Pope Declares Death Penalty Unacceptable in All Cases

Pope Declares Death Penalty Unacceptable in All Cases

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Pope Francis said that the Roman Catholic Church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.CreditAlessandra Tarantino/Associated Press
ROME — Pope Francis has declared that the death penalty is wrong in all cases, a definitive change in church teaching that is likely to challenge faithful Catholic politicians, judges and officials in the United States and other countries who have argued that their church was not entirely opposed to capital punishment.
Francis added the change to the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, the book of doctrine that is taught to Catholic children worldwide and studied by adults in a church with 1.2 billion members.
Francis said executions were unacceptable in all cases because they are “an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday.
The church also says it will work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
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Francis’ decision is likely to put many American Catholic politicians in a difficult position, especially Catholic governors, like Greg Abbott of Texas and Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, who have presided over executions.
And it could set off a backlash among American Catholic traditionalists who have already cast Francis as being dangerously inclined to change or compromise church teaching on other issues, like permitting communion for Catholics who have divorced and remarried without getting a church annulment.
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It could also complicate the lives of judges who are practicing Catholics.
In a 2002 article, Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016, said, “I do not find the death penalty immoral,” and added that he was confident that Catholic doctrine allowed for it to be used in some cases.
He wrote that it would be a bad idea if Catholic judges had to recuse themselves in death penalty cases or if Catholic governors had to promise commutations of death sentences, and commented, “Most of them would never reach the governor’s mansion.”
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The new teaching appears to make the conflict much sharper, if not definitive.
President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, is Catholic, as are Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Sonia Sotomayor. One of the other finalists for the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy was Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who is also Catholic.
She wrote a 1998 law review article suggesting that Catholic judges should consider recusing themselves in some death penalty cases that might conflict with their religious beliefs.
Abolishing the death penalty has been one of Francis’ top priorities for many years, along with saving the environment and caring for immigrants and refugees. He mentioned it in his address to the United States Congress on his trip to America in 2015, saying that “from the beginning of my ministry” he had been led “to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty.”
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He added, “I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.”

Where the Death Penalty is Legal in the United States

Capital punishment is legal in 31 states. Governors have imposed moratoriums on the death penalty in four of those states.
Has death penalty
No death penalty
Governor-imposed moratorium
Wash.
Me.
Mont.
N.D.
Minn.
Vt.
Ore.
N.H.
Wis.
Idaho
S.D.
Mass.
N.Y.
R.I.
Mich.
Wyo.
Conn.
Pa.
Iowa
N.J.
Neb.
Nev.
Ohio
Md.
Ind.
Ill.
Del.
Utah
W.Va.
Colo.
Calif.
Va.
Kan.
Mo.
Ky.
N.C.
Tenn.
Okla.
Ariz.
Ark.
N.M.
S.C.
Ga.
Ala.
Miss.
La.
Tex.
Fla.
Alaska
Hawaii
Governor-imposed moratorium
Has death penalty
No death penalty
Wash.
Me.
Mont.
Vt.
N.D.
Minn.
Ore.
N.H.
Wis.
Idaho
S.D.
N.Y.
Mass.
Mich.
Wyo.
R.I.
Conn.
Iowa
Pa.
Neb.
N.J.
Nev.
Ohio
Md.
Ill.
Ind.
Del.
Utah
W.Va.
Colo.
Calif.
Va.
Mo.
Kan.
Ky.
N.C.
Tenn.
Okla.
Ariz.
Ark.
S.C.
N.M.
Ala.
Ga.
Miss.
La.
Tex.
Alaska
Fla.
Hawaii
Has death penalty
No death penalty
Governor-imposed moratorium
WA
ME
VT
MT
ND
MN
OR
NH
WI
ID
NY
SD
MA
WY
MI
RI
CT
IA
PA
NE
NV
NJ
OH
MD
IL
IN
UT
WV
CO
CA
VA
KS
MO
KY
NC
TN
OK
AZ
NM
AR
SC
AL
GA
MS
LA
TX
FL
AK
HI
Sources: Death Penalty Information Center; National Conference of State Legislatures
By The New York Times
The new teaching builds on the instructions of Francis’ two immediate predecessors.
“This didn’t come out of nowhere,” said John Thavis, a Vatican expert and author. “John Paul II and Benedict laid the ground work; he’s taking the next logical step.”
“I think this will be a big deal for the future of the death penalty in the world,” he added. “People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church.”
Sergio D’Elia, the secretary of Hands Off Cain, an association that works to abolish capital punishment worldwide, said, “Now even the most far-flung parish priest will teach this to young children.”
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The Vatican announced the change on Thursday, publishing a letter to bishops approved by the pope in mid-June.
The letter says that Francis made the death penalty shift “ to better reflect” the clearer awareness of the church “for the respect due to every human life.”
On social media, some Catholics asked whether the Vatican had timed the announcement to deflect attention from a scandal over revelations that former cardinal Theodore McCarrick had been allowed to climb the hierarchy despite accusations made to senior church officials that he was sexually abusing his seminary students.
In the catechism promoted by St. John Paul II, in 1992, the death penalty was allowed if it was “the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.”
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The change on the issue has been developing for years. In 2015, four Catholic media outlets in the United States published a joint editorial calling for the abolition of the death penalty. They included the liberal-leaning National Catholic Reporter and the conservative-leaning National Catholic Register.
Many Catholics in the United States have rallied around calls to abolish the penalty.
When Francis visited the United States in 2015, he went to a prison in Pennsylvania and met with a few prisoners and their families. He also wrote a detailed letter that year to the International Commission against the Death Penalty, arguing that capital punishment “does not render justice to the victims, but rather fosters vengeance.”
In it, he made two arguments that specifically spoke to the American context: The death penalty is illegitimate because many convictions have later been found to be in error and have been overturned, and because executions of prisoners in some states have been badly botched.
Still, support for the death penalty persists in the United States among some conservative Catholics. The Rev. C. John McCloskey III, an influential teacher and confidante of countless American politicians and civic leaders, has writtenthat the church’s doctrine “does not and never has advocated unqualified abolition of the death penalty.”
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In his argument, he cited Saints John Paul II, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. He even cited Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who served as archbishop of Chicago, and who frequently used the term “seamless garment” to express that the church was for life, from conception to death.
Father McCloskey argued that for any human being, “it is a great grace to know the time of one’s death, as it gives us the opportunity to get right with the Lord who will judge us at our death. Perhaps many people have been saved in this way by the death penalty.”
Elisabetta Povoledo reported from Rome, and Laurie Goodstein from New York. Adam Liptak contributed reporting from Washington.
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