Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Malaysia Foreign worker levy policy contributes to FORCED LABOUR/DEBT BONDAGE among workers

Malaysian Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said about implementing the doubling of levy for foreign workers. Example for restaurant the proposed levy increase to RM3,600 from RM1,800 .Even today they said will be delayed the implementation but again Levy issue is link to exploitation because as we know and have the evidence from workers themselves mostly of employers deducted the levy from workers and it will lead workers to be in servitude conditions ( debt bondage )with very low wages and long working hours .
If Malaysian government sincerely to abolish the forced labour/ debt bondage .They must abolish Foreign worker levy as it failed policy to intended the effect of deterring employers to employ migrant workers in the other way around employer likes to employ migrant workers because they could deducted all the fees, levy and other expenses from migrant workers and they could not do that to local workers because local workers could unionise and complaint about that unlawful deduction..

Levy, Air Fare,...cannot be deducted from Migrant Worker's is LAW.
LEVY, Air Fare, Medical Expenses, Recruitment Cost, etc... these are things that employers of foreign migrant workers should be paying themselves, and they should not be permitted to recover all their expenses by deducting worker's wages...The continued practice of many employers deducting almost everything they expended in employing a migrant worker from the migrant worker's wages is one of the main reason why many employers prefer to employ foreign migrant workers compared to local workers...because this really makes it cheaper and easier to get and maintain foreign migrant workers compared to local workers.UMNO-led BN government, that is seen to be pro-employer, seems to be turning a 'blind-eye' towards this. Cheap easily controlled labour is what our government wants. Worker rights and welfare is really not a priority.Some employers just do it because others are doing it. And, really some public officers in the Human Resource Ministry are also rather blur about this.The tactic is simple - Keep it vagur. Just do not enact any Laws, Regulations, etc that will make it most clear as to what an employer can deduct from the wages of a foreign migrant worker and what he cannot.Go try finding this information in the websites of the Ministry of Human Resources, Immigration Department, etc...and you find that even these basic information is not there.This lack of information allows for employers to continue breaking the laws, and paying migrants minimum wages. After all, they can deduct almost all that they spent on getting and employing these migrant workers.But wait - there is a law that talks about wages and deductions from wages that is permitted, and the total amount of deductions permissible per month...Let us look at the Malaysian Law, which applies to both the Local Worker and the Foreign Migrant particular the Employment Act 1955.The law is clear that wages are to be paid at least once a month - and that from the wages, the employer can only make lawful deductions.., and this is clearly stated in section 24 of the Employment Act 1955 which applies with regard to all workers - local or foreign.
Section 24, EMPLOYMENT ACT 1955 (REVISED 1981)24. Lawful deductions.
(1) No deductions shall be made by an employer from the wages of an employee otherwise than in accordance with this Act.
(2) It shall be lawful for an employer to make the following deductions:
(a) deductions to the extent of any overpayment of wages made during the immediately preceding three months from the month in which deductions are to be made, by the employer to the employee by the employer's mistake;
(b) deductions for the indemnity due to the employer by the employee under section 13(1);
(c) deductions for the recovery of advances of wages made under section 22 provided no interest is charged on the advances; and
(d) deductions authorized by any other written law.
And, when it comes to deductions authorized by any other written law, it is very clearly stated. This is only with regard to SOCSO/PERKESO and EPF/KWSP. I found no other written law that permitted employers to deduct from employee's wages.SOCSO/PERKESO
7. Principal employer to pay contributions in the first instance.
(1) The principal employer shall pay in respect of every employee, whether directly employed by him or through an immediate employer, both the employer's contribution and the employee's contribution.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other written law but subject to the provisions of this Act and the regulations, if any, the principal employer shall, in the case of an employee directly employed by him, be entitled to recover from the employee the employee's contribution by deduction from his wages and not otherwise:
48. Recovery by employer of employee's contribution.
(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, the employer shall be entitled to recover from the employee, in accordance with this section, the amount of any contribution payable on behalf of the employee.
[Subs. Act A914]
(2) The amount of any contribution payable by the employer on behalf of the employee shall, notwithstanding the provisions of any written law or any contract to the contrary, be so recoverable by means of deductions from the wages of the employee due from the employer to the employee and not otherwise.
There are certain other permissible specific deductions like union fees, etc which can be done ' the request in writing of the employee...'Thus, it is wrong for employers of foreign migrant labour to deduct from the wages of migrant workers levy, airfare, medical charges, etc..Note, that the law is also clear that workers shall every month receive at least 50% of his/her wages. Maximum deductions is only 50%. Thus, employers who do not pay migrant workers for months...or just pay them some 'pocket money' are breaking the law - but alas, so little enforcement is done here. WHY?
(8) The total of any amounts deducted under this section from the wages of an employee in respect of any one month shall not exceed fifty per centum of the wages earned by that employee in that month. - Section 24, EMPLOYMENT ACT 1955
at 7:11 PM
Labels: Migrant Rights, Worker Rights

Published: Wednesday March 25, 2009 MYT 11:32:00 AMUpdated: Wednesday March 25, 2009 MYT 4:09:58 PM
HR Minister wants doubling of foreign worker levy delayed

KUALA LUMPUR: Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said Wednesday that he would ask the Deputy Prime Minister to give employers a grace period before implementing the doubling of levy for foreign workers.
Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said he would make the request to Najib, who heads the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Labour, as he had gathered feedback on the matter from several restaurant operator association members.
“Many of them have been caught unawares, and they feel they should be given a grace period.
“I have been in discussions with my colleagues in the Cabinet, and I’ll bring those suggestions forward so that we can take those views into consideration,” he told the press after launching the Masterskill Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy Research Centre in Cheras here Wednesday.
In the mini-budget earlier this month, Najib had announced that levy for foreign workers, except for those in the plantation, construction and domestic sectors, would have their levy doubled.
He added that on average, about 20,000 foreign workers, whose contracts had ended, have been sent back every month this year.
The majority of foreign workers in Malaysia are Indonesians.
On Tuesday, he has said that he would raise the matter in Cabinet, especially the impact on employers.
However, he had said, the proposal to increase the levy did not come from his ministry, adding that the government had no intention of disrupting or forcing the closure of employers' operations by hiking the levy.
"Instead, the move is to create more employment opportunities for locals. This is a serious effort by the government to reduce the country's dependence on foreign labour," he had said after opening a conference on the Malaysian Labour Law, here, Tuesday.
He said many employers had met him to voice their woes following the government's decision to raise the levy on foreign workers.
"When the government introduces a new measure or ruling, it is not meant to cause difficulties to any quarters but was done with good intentions.
"However, I will bring up the employers' grouse to the Cabinet for discussion," he said.
Recently, four national associations of restaurant owners urged the government to scrap the proposed levy increase to RM3,600 from RM1,800.
The four are the Indian Restaurant Owners Association, Malaysia Muslim Restaurant Owners Association, Chinese Restaurant Owners Association and Bumiputera Restaurant Owners Association.
Last Wednesday, many restaurant operators threatened to raise prices of their food, including roti canai and teh tarik, due to increased labour cost if the government decides to go ahead with the plan to raise the levy.

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