Friday, December 11, 2009

MTUC: End Discrimination Against Workers and Unions in Malaysia Repeal anti-union section 26(1A) of the Trade Unions Act 1959

Media Statement – 11/12/2009

End Discrimination Against Workers and Unions in Malaysia

Repeal anti-union section 26(1A) of the Trade Unions Act 1959

On the occasion of the United Nations' (UN) Human Rights Day, this is annually observed on December 10 to mark the anniversary of the presentation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) calls for a greater recognition and respect of workers’ rights in Malaysia. This year the theme determined by the United Nations is non-discrimination.

MTUC specifically calls for an end of all forms of discrimination of workers in Malaysia.

Unions are essential for the promotion and protection of rights of workers, especially in the struggle for justice against the employer. Workers standing together as a union are less likely to be taken advantage and/or exploited by their employers. The right to unionize is specifically provided for in Atricle 23(4) specifically provides that ‘(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.’

One of the reason for this state of affairs is the Malaysian government, that has been more pro-business and hence have not actively encouraged and promoted unions in Malaysia. As an example, we have section 26(1A) of the Trade Unions Act 1959, which states, “No person shall join, or be a member of, or be accepted or retained as a member by, any trade union if he is not employed or engaged in any establishment, trade, occupation or industry in respect of which the trade union is registered…”. Workers join unions so that they can be protected by their unions when their rights are violated by their employers. This provision automatically deprives the worker the assistance and benefits of being a union member when the worker’s most fundamental right has been violated, that is the worker’s right to employment with the particular employer. This provision also impedes unions from continuing to fight for the wrongfully dismissed worker. It is provision that certainly does not promote unions, or the need to form and join unions. MTUC reiterates its call for the immediate repeal of section 26(1A) of the Trade Unions Act 1959.

Malaysia must stop discriminating against workers in favour of employers, and should actively promote unions at every workplace. This should be a key objective of the Malaysian government to ensure that human rights of all workers are protected.

MTUC also calls for an end of discrimination of workers, based on whether they are public servants or workers in private companies. For workers in the public sector, the Malaysian government has a lot of benefits including free healthcare. As an example, public servants and their dependents enjoy free heart healthcare at the National Heart Institute (Institut Jantung Negara – IJN), whilst other workers will have to pay astronomical sums, which many a time is beyond the worker’s means, to get the necessary heart healthcare at the Malaysian government heart institute. Malaysia should ensure that all workers, in fact all persons in Malaysia, are entitled to free universal healthcare and other essential benefits.

MTUC also calls for the end of all forms of discrimination against all workers in Malaysia, be they local or migrant, documented or undocumented.

MTUC calls for an end of discrimination of workers currently being practiced based on whether they are workers in public sectors or private sectors.

MTUC calls for equal rights for all workers, and the repeal of Item 2 of Schedule 2 of the Employment Act 1955, that currently denies basic worker rights for some classes of workers including domestic workers.

MTUC calls for an end of the pro-business pro employer policies and stance of the Malaysian government, and for the Malaysian government to adopt a pro worker pro union position that will necessarily benefit the majority of workers in Malaysia and their dependents, and necessarily balance out the effect of past discrimination against workers.

Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud,
Malaysian Trades Union Congress
Subang Jaya, 11/12/2009

No Za Bou, Women Migrant from Burma dies in KLIA Detention Centre - Could this death have been avoided with proper healthcare?

On 9/10/2009, I received information that yet another migrant from Burma, a woman, died at the KLIA Detention Centre.

Name: No Za Bou
Body No: 7652

What did she die of? Disease. What disease? The authorities allegedly will not disclose the disease when a migrant in these Detention Centres die.

Letters written to the Health Minister about previous deaths have yet to be answered, the last being as follows:-

15th November, 2009

Minister of Health
Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia
Block E1, E6, E7 & E10, Kompleks E,
Federal Government Administrative Centre,
62590 Putrajaya, MALAYSIA

Dear Sir,

We have recently been informed that 2 Burmese Migrants, who were detained at the Lenggeng Detention Centre recently died at the Seremban Hospital by reason of disease. We seek clarification as to what was the said disease? Was it again Leptospirosis.

One of the deceased was allegedly Aung Myo Lwin [Camp Body Number: 22157], who died on 22/10/2009. Hospital did not say what disease he died from. He was buried on 29/10/2009. The other deceased was allegedly buried on 28/10/2009.

Please find enclosed also a Joint Statement of 21 organizations and groups, from all over the world, dated 25/9/2009, entitled “Leptospirosis Causes Death Of Another 6 Burmese In Detention In Malaysia - Denial Of Healthcare Is A Violation Of Right To Life

We are concerned about the report of recent deaths of 6 migrants at the KL International Airport (KLIA) depot.

We note that this is the 2nd time that this is happening. In May 2009, 2 persons in the Juru Detention Centre, in Penang, Malaysia. We refer you to our earlier letter dated 25/5/2009, which also enclosed the Joint Statement of 113 organizations and groups, from all over the world, dated 23/5/2009, entitled “Death Of 2 Burmese Indicative Of State Of Detention Places In Malaysia - Denial Of Healthcare Is A Violation Of Right To Life” [To date, 127 organisations have endorsed this statement]

The statement speaks for itself, and if there is need for further information and clarification, feel free to contact us [Charles Hector ( or Pranom Somwong (Bee) ( at 019-237100/300]

Kindly acknowledge receipt, and we expect your response. We note sadly that there was no response to our letter of 25/9/2009, and wish to state that this reflects very badly on your good self, the Ministry of Health and the government of Malaysia. As such, we hope that you will take the time to respond this time.

We would like to know whether there was an investigation conducted by the Ministry and/or its departments as cause of the contamination that resulted in the death by Leptospirosis.

We would also appreciate statistics as to the number of deaths of detainees in places of detention, and the causes of the deaths.

With regard to Leptospirosis, we would like the Malaysian statistics of persons infected by Leptospirosis and the number of deaths, and also the same statistics with regard to prisons, detention centers of undocumented migrants.

We would also like to know the steps being taken by the Government of Malaysia, your Ministry, the Public Health Department and/or other relevant bodies to ensure proper hygine, cleanliness, and most importantly how prompt and effective healthcare is to be provided at places of detention to prevent unnecessary deaths.

If you are unable or unwilling to provide the said information, kindly revert to us as to the reasons why. We hope that you will promptly respond to this letter.

Thank you.

In solidarity,

Charles Hector
For and on behalf of the organizations that have endorsed the said Statements.

Lot 3585A, Kampung Lubuk Layang,
Batu 3, Jalan Mentakab,
28000 Temerloh,
PAHANG, Malaysia
Tel: 019-2371 100/300


Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak,
Prime Minister of Malaysia,
Prime Minister's Office,
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building,
Federal Government Administrative Centre,
62502 Putrajaya, MALAYSIA

Level 29, Menara Tun Razak
Jalan Raja Laut
50350 Kuala Lumpur.

And, of course there were previous letters and statements..

Minister of Health's lack of response shows a lack of accountability - Death of Migrants in Detention Centres by reason of Leptospirosis

2 more Burmese migrants die in detention. Was it Leptospirosis again? Would hygienic conditions and proper healthcare prevented these deaths?


2 died in Juru Detention Centre of Leptospirosis - The SUHAKAM response.

126 groups:- Death of 2 Burmese Indicative of State of Detention Places in Malaysia - Denial of Healthcare Is a Violation of Right to Life

Sunday, December 6, 2009

MTUC should be fighting for all workers rights, local/migrant, documented/undocumented ...not proposing ideas how to get rid of certain workers

There are about 2.4 documented migrant workers, and estimated about 5 million undocumented migrants, and the truth of the matter is that most of these undocumented migrants are working with Malaysian employers.

MTUC suggests an amnesty to facilitate the easy return of the migrants to their home country, with their home country made to bear the cost.

But, a better solution maybe a registration exercise of undocumented migrants - whereby employers of these migrants be given an amnesty, i.e. that they would not be charged for their employing of undocumented migrant workers, provided they register these workers immediately within 3 months (or some other reasonable period), and all these workers will be documented. This is a practice that Thailand uses, and more recently the Malaysian government did a similar exercise for Sabah. If they can do it for Sabah, then the surely can do the same for the rest of Peninsular Malaysia.

Whilst most of the undocumented migrants are really here for work and a means to earn an income to support themselves and their dependents back home, there are a certain group of migrants that are here to escape an oppressive regime back in their home country.

People from Burma would fall into this category, and it is estimated that there may be about 600,000 undocumented migrants from Burma in Malaysia. Some would take steps and go to the UNHCR to try to apply for refugee status, whilst many others who really would be asylum seekers and refugees may not proceed to UNHCR. The reason for this, is that what they really are seeking is temporary asylum in Malaysia (and Thailand) and they have a strong desire to return to Burma when democracy returns. When one goes to UNHCR, and get refugee status, the next step would be to send them to some third country...which many may not really want.

Further, UNHCR is overloaded with work, and have no capacity to process all these migrants from Burma. There are also certain procedures of UNHCR that is problematic, and there is generally a certain bias towards certain groups. There was also rumours of corruption, which I heard has been dealt with by UNHCR.

Thus, I would propose that Malaysia do a registration exercise for undocumented migrants. The obligation should be with the employer to come forward and register their workers. As I mentioned, for workers from Burma, a special procedure may be required.

The other group of migrants that may fall into this category would be from Southern Thailand and Southern Philippines.

The present system of getting migrant workers seems not to be working. Why? Maybe there is corruption at the level of the agents, and some workers really cannot afford to pay these agents and come into Malaysia as documented workers. Maybe, the government should study this - and maybe there should be a change of policy.

* All foreigners coming to Malaysia shall be first given a 3 months social visit visa. The migrant then can go and find work, if they can. Once they find a job, then the employer shall within 2 weeks takes steps to inform the Labour Department, and make the relevant application to get a 'work permit' for their worker. If the worker leaves the employer, then the employer shall within 2 weeks inform the labour Department. The worker's work permit shall not be revoked for a period of 2 months, and if during that time he finds a job, then his/her work permit shall be varied to reflect the new employer. [This method will cut off the agents, and all those 'in-between steps', and it will work]

* For refugees, one option is that the UNHCR be required to provide for board and lodging, whilst the migrant is waiting to be sent to a third country. Now, apparently UNHCR processes the migrant, give him refugee status, hand him a UN Refugee card and tells him to wait. How can this 'refugee' survive - and naturally many will end up working to live. [In many places, refugees would be staying in refugee camps where their food and board are taken care of - hence no reason to work and earn...but not in Malaysia. Why?] If not, then Malaysia should also provide for a 'refugee work permit' so that these refugees could work while they wait to be sent to a third country.

I am rather shocked by MTUC's statement, as it seems more concerned with getting them out of Malaysia. Let's not forget that these undocumented migrants are also workers most of the time. MTUC should be suggesting things that benefit workers - not a method to get rid of them from Malaysia.

Further, some regimes like Burma (Union of Myanmmar) really are not bothered with these people from Burma. That is why our Detention Centres are packed with people from Burma. Secondly, it is foolish for those running away from an oppressive regime to even want to consider going back.

Even for the purely economic migrants, they took the risk and came over to Malaysia for a reason - to earn a living to support their family/dependents back home. So, why really would they want to go back to their home country. There is no jobs waiting for them over there. And, even if they grab this opportunity for a free trip home, they will most likely be back here again. This is certainly not a good proposal or a solution to the undocumented migrant phenomena. [Undocumented Migration is not a problem - it is really a very natural phenomena and it has been happening from time immemorial - people move all over the world for work or for a better life. Hence, the question is how do we deal with this...for the benefit of all.

Registration or documentation is good because it will protect the rights of the worker. But whether a person is documented or undocumented, it should never be an hindrance whatsoever for a worker to claim his rights as a worker.And MTUC should be fighting for the rights of all workers, documented or undocumented or refugee or..., not calling for their eviction from Malaysia.

MTUC, as I know, is presently concern about all workers, local or foreign, and that is why I am shocked by this statement issued by its Vice-president, A Balasubramaniam. Maybe, the reporter got it wrong...

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) today called on the government to declare an amnesty to allow the estimated 2.1 million illegal foreign workers to leave the country.

Its vice-president, A Balasubramaniam said this was the best way to reduce the number of foreign workers in the country.

bangladesh foreign workers migrants 030108He said the last amnesty from July 1 2004 to February 2005 was very successful, where 230,000 such workers left the country voluntarily.

He told Bernama that the MTUC had received hundreds of requests from these workers, especially those whose visas had expired, that they wanted to return to their country of origin.

However, the cost of getting the documentation was rather high and the workers could not afford it, he said.

It would benefit the country

He said it cost the workers a total of M2,000 to get the papers to go back, and it included a fine of RM300 for overstaying, RM600 for airfare and RM1,100 for processing the application through specified agents.

Under an amnesty the workers need not pay anything as the cost of repatriation would be borne by their country.

Balasubramaniam said an amnesty would benefit the country as it would provide employment opportunities for the locals, reduce the number of detention camps, redeploy enforcement officers, lower the risk of the spread of communicable diseases and assist foreign workers from being exploited by local errant employers.

Besides these, Malaysia would also be able to earn the goodwill of workers organisations both at home and in the workers' country of origin, he added.- Malaysiakini, 6/12/2009,
MTUC: Declare amnesty for foreign workers

ALIRAN: Protecting the rights of migrant workers and their families: Malaysia’s obligation

Sunday, 06 December 2009 18:32

The Asean Committee for Migrant Workers (ACMW) Drafting Committee meets in Kuala Lumpur on 7 and 8 December 2009, hosted by the Ministry of Human Resources. The ACMW Drafting Committee comprising Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines, is in the process of drafting a Framework Instrument on the protection and promotion of migrant workers rights for Asean, in line with the principle affirmed by the ten Asean states, under the Bangkok Declaration on Irregular Migration 1999 and the Asean Declaration on the protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers.
Under the Bangkok Declaration, “Regular migration and irregular migration should not be considered in isolation from each other”, and “migration, particularly irregular migration, should be addressed in a comprehensive and balanced manner, considering its causes, manifestations and effects, both positive and negative, in the countries of origin, transit and destination.”

Further, signatory countries committed themselves under The Bangkok Declaration to formulate “comprehensive, coherent and effective policies on irregular migration … within the context of a broader regional framework based on a spirit of partnership and common understanding.”

In accordance with its commitment under the said declaration the Malaysian Government should extend protection of migrant workers’ rights to all migrant workers (documented and undocumented) regardless of their legal status in the future Framework Instrument for Protection and Promotion of Migrant Workers’ Rights.

The Government should also give protective coverage to the rights of migrant workers' families under the same future Framework Instrument.

The exclusion of both the above provisions from the Framework Instrument goes against Malaysia’s commitments under the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that all member nations of Asean have ratified and acceded to.

The CRC General Comment 6, issued by the Committee of the Rights of Child, states that all children present on the territory of a Government shall be extended the full protections under the CRC, regardless of status or origins of the child. The provisions of the Asean Instrument being developed must fully cover migrant children along with the other members of their family.

We support the vision of the Asean Declaration because the protection of women migrant workers and the children of migrant workers is an important central element of a comprehensive and efficacious regional Instrument.

Thus we urge the government to join the three other member states in the ACWM Drafting Committee i.e. Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines in supporting the inclusion of these clauses. Two of these, Indonesia and the Philippines, contribute a large portion of migrant labour to Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Brunei. The governments of origin countries like Indonesia and the Philippines would want to protect the rights of their nationals working abroad as is their duty to their own citizens and is exemplary government conduct.

Aliran seeks to remind the Malaysian Government that it is not in the national interest and that of the ‘rakyat’ at home or abroad to complicate or stall the process of establishing accepted and agreed international practices that meet internationally recognised and approved ILO standards.

We also remind the Government that all Asean partners supported the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work adopted unanimously by the ILO in June 1998. The ILO Declaration stipulates that the human rights of all migrant workers, regardless of their status, should be promoted and protected in line with the eight core ILO Conventions. Accordingly, we submit that the Asean Instrument being drafted must be in harmony with these Conventions.

We urge the Ministry of Human Resources and the Drafting Team to adopt the definition of “migrant worker” contained in Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. This Convention defines a migrant worker as “a person who is to be engaged, is engaged or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a State of which he or she is not a national.” This definition is comprehensive, clear and concise and merits adoption.

The coverage of migrant workers by the Asean Instrument should not be determined by the type of work performed by the migrant worker or the nature of the contract through which she or he is employed. A significant number of migrant workers in the region are temporary workers, domestic workers, informal sector workers and self-employed workers. It is important to ensure that these categories of workers, who are often overlooked, are included in the coverage of a regional Instrument.

We further note the Asean Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers makes the following reference on the importance of international frameworks -- “Recalling also the Universal Declaration on (sic) Human Rights …… as well as other appropriate international instruments which all Asean Member Countries have acceded to in order to safeguard the human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals."

Aliran strongly urges the Government to support the inclusion in the Asean Framework Instrument of the principle of “national treatment” as exemplified in Article 25 of the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

In keeping with the Prime Minister’s advocacy of 1Malaysia, we hope that Malaysia will reciprocate the goodwill, cooperation and unity of its Asean neighbours in supporting the protection and promotion of migrant workers' rights and their human rights. Doing this, will only increase international esteem and respect for our country and our nationals who are working abroad to whom the same rights will apply under the principle of reciprocity.

Moreover, Aliran recommends as a reference document for the Asean Framework Instrument on the Protection and Promotion of Migrant Workers Rights, the draft Framework Instrument proposed by the Asean Civil Society Task Force that was presented to Asean member governments at the Asean Senior Labour Officials Meeting (SLOM) earlier this year in Vientiane, Laos.

The said document had been drafted in consultation with civil societies involved in work with migrant workers and advocates of migrant workers' rights in the region. It thoroughly covers in considerable detail issues and problems faced by migrant workers in their countries of origin, in transit and in destination countries within Asean.

In conclusion, we urge the Government to cooperate in the establishment of a just Asean body that prospers economically and socially through the protection and promotion of the human rights of its Asean family in the spirit of mutual respect and goodwill amongst Asean partners and their peoples.

Aliran Executive Committee
6 December 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Only 780,000 or 7% of the entire workforce of more than 10 million are unionised in Malaysia.

In Malaysia, only 780,000 or 7% of the entire workforce of more than 10 million are unionised as of 2006.

Of course, workers divided are easier to exploit, and our UMNO-led BN government is a 'pro-business' government, and not really a pro-worker government, and as such this government really will not encourage workers to form fact, it makes it difficult.

Workers in a union fights for their rights. Employer terminates some of these workers, and guess what the Malaysian Trade Union law says that they, who are no longer

I wish to highlight the point made by Syed Shahir, the current president of the Malaysian Trade Unions Congress (MTUC) that only 780,000 or 7 per cent of the entire work force of more than 10 million are unionised as of 2006. Several reasons explain this low rate of participation in unions.

First, repression of the working class ever since the Emergency and Independence. Apart from the coercive Trades Union Act, the Industrial Relations Act, the Employment Act, other repressive laws like the ISA exist which circumscribe the autonomy and effectiveness of the trade unions. Much writing is available on these matters. Suffice it to stress that it is on account of such coercive laws and repression of unionists that a majority of workers are fearful of getting involved in unions and unionism these days.

Second, the problem of leadership of the trade unions. It is also documented that union leaders, especially during the past two decades, have been riddled with factionalism, financial scandals, and patronage and let’s not forget, patriarchal attitudes too. These two considerations – repression on the one hand, poor leadership of the TUs on the other - have often been mentioned to explain Malaysia’s low rate of unionism. - ALIRAN, 18/11/2009, Malaysia at the crossroads [Francis Loh's review of book by Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj

MTUC : New Laws needed to ensure justice for workers in Malaysia MTUC’s proposed National Retrenchment Fund Could Have Assisted former Nikko Electroni

New Laws needed to ensure justice for workers in Malaysia

MTUC’s proposed National Retrenchment Fund Could Have Assisted former Nikko Electronics workers

Recently, it was reported that the retrenched workers of Nikko Electronics Bhd protested outside Penang State Assembly.(Star, 2/12/2009), seeking the State governments assistance to get their benefits and compensations. These were amongst the 1,000 odd workers that were retrenched suddenly without notice by their employer in July 2008. Apparently, their plea to the Minister, the Federal and State government have not been successful to date. If there was a National Retrenchment Scheme, as proposed by MTUC in 1998, in place, they could have resorted to this to get some compensation. Malaysian laws also need to be amended to ensure justice for all workers, especially those who lose their jobs and source of income.

There must be a new law that provides for compensation to workers in Malaysia that are terminated, retrenched or laid off by the employers as the current Employment (Termination And Lay-Off Benefits) Regulations 1980 is no longer just or sufficient given the fact of changes in the employment patterns in Malaysia.

Today, a lot of employers hire workers, be it local workers or migrant workers, on a short fixed term basis which may range from 1 to 2 years. Thereafter, a new contract may be entered into for some.

There is also the practice of contracting out some of the jobs to private contractors, and in this case the workers become employees of the contractor, and not the owner of the place that they work with.

This changing employment practices has had serious implications for workers, for they not only lose job security but also rights as workers, including the right to join existing unions.

The current Employment (Termination And Lay-Off Benefits) Regulations 1980 is for the long-term worker, and this is also reflected in Regulation 3(1) that states ‘…that an employer shall be liable to pay termination or lay-off benefits payment calculated in accordance with regulation 6 to an employee who has been employed under a continuous contract of service for a period of not less than twelve months…’ . This means that short-term fixed contract employees who have worked for less than a year is not entitled to any benefit under the regulations.

Eventhough Regulation 3(2) provides that, ‘For the purpose of this regulation a continuous contract of service for a period of not less than twelve months shall include two or more periods of employment which are not less than twelve months in the aggregate if the intervening period or periods between one period of employment and another does not in the aggregate exceed thirty days…’, unscrupulous employers have been known evade this by entering into new short-term contracts after the lapse of 30 days, or even causing the worker to enter into new contractors with some labour provider.

Regulation 6, which provide for the calculation of benefits, that state as follows, :-
‘…the amount of termination or lay-off benefits payment to which an employee is entitled in any case shall not be less than —
(a) ten days’ wages for every year of employment under a continuous contract of service with the employer if he has been employed by that employer for a period of less than two years; or
(b) fifteen days’ wages for every year of employment under a continuous contract of service with the employer if he has been employed by that employer for two years or more but less than five years; or
(c) twenty days’ wages for every year of employment under a continuous contract of service with the employer if he has been employed by that employer for five years or more,
and pro-rata as respect an incomplete year, calculated to the nearest month…”

clearly will not provide justice for the short-term fixed contract workers, and workers working in the establishment allegedly under some other labour provider or contractor.

To aggravate matters, unionized workers, when they most need the assistance of their unions become no longer members of the union by a bad law, being section 26(1A) of the Trade Unions Act 1959, which states, “No person shall join, or be a member of, or be accepted or retained as a member by, any trade union if he is not employed or engaged in any establishment, trade, occupation or industry in respect of which the trade union is registered…”. This provision must be repealed, and membership of the union after being retrenched, laid-off or terminated should continue for so long as necessary for as rights of these members as workers are pending.

MTUC after the 1998 economic crisis, being fully aware of the fact that many a worker were not paid their requisite compensation and benefits by reason of the fact the employers did not have any more money, proposed to the Malaysian government to set up a National Retrenchment Scheme.

When these companies renege on their legal and contractual obligations to their workers by defaulting on statutory contributions to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and to the Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) as well as payment of retrenchment benefits pursuant to the Employment (Termination and Lay–Off Benefits) Regulations, 1980, then this National Retrenchment Fund could come in to immediately assist these workers.

Although in March 2009, The Malaysian government has ruled out setting up a retrenchment fund (Sun, 4/3/2009, No plan for retrenchment fund, MTUC urges that the government to reconsider this decision, and immediately set up this very much needed National Retrenchment Fund, which will surely benefit workers like those from Nikko Electronics Bhd.

Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud,
Malaysian Trades Union Congress
Subang Jaya, 03/12/2009

A lot of points were raised in the above statement, but this is what NST reported.

There must be a new law to provide compensation to Malaysian workers who are terminated, retrenched or laid-off by employers, says Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) president Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud. He said this was because, the current Employment (Termination And Lay-Off Benefits) Regulations 1980 was no longer just or sufficient, given the fact of changes in the employment patterns in the country.

"Today, a lot of employers hire workers, be it local workers or migrant workers, on a short fixed-term basis which range from one to two years.

Thereafter, a new contract may be entered into, for some.

"There is also the practice of contracting out some of the jobs to private contractors, and in this case, the workers become employees of the contractor, and not the owner of the place that they work with," said Syed Shahir in a statement here today.

He said this changing employment practice has had serious implications for workers, for they not only lose job security but also rights as workers, including the right to join existing unions. - Bernama- New Straits Times, 3/12/2009, New laws needed to ensure justice for workers: MTUC

Thursday, December 3, 2009

11,000 Myanmars In Malaysia Given Refugee Status By UNHCR in 2009

December 03, 2009 12:09 PM

11,000 Myanmars In Malaysia Given Refugee Status By UNHCR

By D. Arul Rajoo

BANGKOK, Dec 3 (Bernama) -- About 11,000 Myanmar refugees in Malaysia were recognised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2009, making them eligible for resettlement in third countries, according to The Irrawaddy online portal.

Of the total, the Chin ethnic group numbered about 5,000 people, Mon 1,800, followed by Kachin and Shan at about 1,000, and other ethnic groups, while the Arakan were not recognised this year.

Irrawaddy said it was the first time that the UNHCR had recognised such a large number of Myanmar refugees who had experienced difficulties earlier this year when Thailand launched a crackdown on illegal migrants from the country attempting to enter from the Malaysia-Thailand border.

Quoting the Alliance of Chin Refugees (ACR), it said there were about 50,000 Chin currently living in Malaysia, and an estimated 20,000 had been granted UNHCR refugee status in Malaysia since 2001.

Nai Roi Mon, an official with the Mon Refugee Office (MRO) in Malaysia, told The Irrawaddy that it processed about 3,000 Mon for UNHCR refugee status.

According to the MRO, no Mon was granted refugee status in 2007, and only 500 were recognised in 2008. It estimated that there are 20,000 Mon living in Malaysia, many illegally.

"They have given favourable recognition to children under age 18, especially from families with many children but no husband. They also favour older men, over 50, as well.

"If you have a UNHCR card, if you are arrested, the UNHCR can help you during detention. This is an advantage for people who work here," Nai Roi Mon said.

Refugees from Myanmar recognised by the UNHCR may wait up to one year or longer for resettlement to third countries.

The Kuala Lumpur-based Burma Workers' Rights Protection Committee told The Irrawaddy that there were about 500,000 Myanmar migrants working in Malaysia, legally and illegally.

The portal said that at the end of October 2009, about 67,800 refugees and asylum seekers were registered with the UNHCR in Malaysia, of whom 62,000 were Myanmars.

"Many pay 18,000 Thai baht (US$500) or more to enter the country (Malaysia) illegally," it said.