Saturday, 13 February 2016

Employers should pay the Levy – Not Migrant Workers Immoral for Malaysia to take from workers to overcome national economic problems

Employers should pay the Levy – Not Migrant Workers
Immoral for Malaysia to take from workers to overcome national economic problems


Joint Statement – 12 February 2016


We the 97 undersigned civil society organisations, trade unions and groups are shocked by the news that the Malaysian government is increasing the migrant worker (foreign worker) levy to more than double the current rate, which since January 2013, had to be paid by the migrant workers themselves.  Prior to that, it was paid by the employer of migrant workers, whereby the introduction of the levy then was to deter employers employing migrant workers, rather than local Malaysian workers. This was also stated by the then Malaysian Labour Director-General Datuk Ismail Abdul Rahim who was quoted saying that, “…The rationale behind getting employers to bear the levy was to discourage them from employing foreigners…”  [Star, 16/4/2009]

Migrant Worker Levy Rates Drastically Increased as of 1/2/2016

The Malaysian government recently announced that, as of 1/2/2016, annual levy payable for each migrant worker is increased to RM2,500 (manufacturing, construction and service sectors) and RM1,500 (plantation and agriculture). Before this, the annual levy payable for a Migrant Worker in the Manufacturing sector (RM1,250), Construction sector (RM 1,250), Plantation sector (RM590), Agricultural sector (RM410) and Services sector (RM1,250 – RM1,850) which was so much lower.

This new rates in comparison greatly burden the migrant worker in that the annual levy payable per migrant worker will now be doubled, or even tripled.

For example, a migrant worker in an electronic factory, classified under the manufacturing sector, who paid a levy of RM1,250 before, will now have to pay double, RM2,500. A worker earning a monthly minimum wage of RM900, which is the wage many migrants are paid, will now have to pay more than RM200 for levy, leaving them with only less than RM700 as their monthly wage, not taking into account all other wage deductions. This is most unjust.

It is unconscionable for the Malaysian government to target migrant workers in the hope of making extra income of RM2.5 billion for the country from the 2.1 million documented migrant workers in Malaysia to rescue Malaysia from its current financial woes.

Easily Exploited With Almost No Access to Justice Makes Migrant Workers Vulnerable to Employers

When Malaysia, introduced Minimum Wage, employers and employer groups complained that their labour cost had gone up, and they could not afford it. In response, the Malaysian government decided that employers no longer need to pay the migrant worker levy, thus the obligation to pay the levy fell on migrant workers themselves.

Contract substitution remains a problem. Migrant workers agree to come to work in Malaysia, but when they start working, the migrant workers complain that they are now paid lower than what they had agreed to in their country of origin with the employer and/or his agent. Many employers have also used the Minimum Wage of RM900, as the standard wages they pay migrant workers.

Because of the debt incurred by migrant workers in coming to Malaysia to work, which is about RM5,000 and the practice of employers and/or agents holding on to their passports and work permits, migrant workers find themselves in a form of bonded labour, and not able to do anything else but just survive.

With the very low wages, they receive; many are forced into doing overtime sometimes 4 hours per day, working on rest days and even public holidays to make ends meet. Malaysian law stipulates a draconian overtime limit of 104 hours every month. This means, in effect migrant workers can be forced to work for 12 hours a day because in many workplaces doing overtime is no longer an option that workers can refuse. As such, migrant workers and even local workers can be considered to be engaged in some form of ‘forced labour’.

For migrant workers, access to justice remains a myth for many. When they complain about rights violations, what happens in many cases is that they are terminated, and their permit to work and/or remain in Malaysia is also terminated. This causes migrant workers to be easily controlled and exploited cheaply. They do not even have the option to claim justice.

Employers Contribute Less to Migrant Workers Income

Under the Malaysian law, employers are required to contribute 13% of the monthly income, inclusive of overtime earnings, to the Employees Provident Fund, this requirement is not applicable to the migrant workers. This makes migrant workers cheaper.

Further, since many employers do not take in migrant workers directly as their own employees, but take and use them as workers who are supplied by the labour suppliers - legally known as the contractors for labour - it effectively prevents these supplied migrant workers the right to join in-house trade unions. Even if they do join national/regional unions, they simply will not be able to enjoy the extra rights and benefits that come by reason of a Collective Bargaining Agreement between Union and Employer, simply by reason that they are not recognised as employees. Calls for the abolition of the ‘contractor for labour system’ by trade unions and civil society have gone unheeded by the government.

Malaysia recognizes that households earning less than RM4,000 a month requires financial assistance, and local workers do get a small assistance from the government through the BR1M program – but migrant workers are excluded from this benefit.

Weakening Ringgit Causes Migrants to earn 20-40% less.

Whilst, the financial problems Malaysia is facing, coupled with the increased cost of living - new taxes, increased transportation costs, and the weakening of the Malaysian Ringgit in relation to currency of the country of origins of migrants – it is the migrant worker who suffers the most.

The weakening ringgit also means that the money migrant workers send back home to their families is now much less and this has a serious impact on their families/dependents and the ability to settle their debts back home. It was recently reported, that "For instance, employees from Bangladesh used to make 44 taka for every RM1, but now it is about 17 taka. The drop is very drastic, more than 40%."Even the ringgit to the Indonesian rupiah has seen a drop in value by 20%," (Malaysian Insider, 5/2/2016)

Unjust to impose New Financial Obligations On Migrant Workers Already In Malaysia

It is totally unjust for Malaysia to impose new financial obligations by law on migrant workers, which did not exist when they agreed with their employers to come and work in Malaysia for 3-5 years. Any new obligations especially of payment by migrant workers should only apply to new migrant workers who have yet to agree to come to Malaysia to work – certainly not to those who are already here and working.

The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) and employer groups have been informed that employers will now have to  pay migrant worker levy. This was also mentioned in a media report, which stated, ‘The FMM [Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers] said the government recently informed employers that the levy burden would be shifted back to them. (Star, 2/2/2016).

However, employer groups have started a campaign lobbying the Malaysian government to re-consider, and the Malaysian government has been reported as saying that they may re-consider. There is concern that this re-consideration may not just be about the amount of levy payable, but also the question as to who will have to pay the levy – migrant workers or their employer?

Therefore, we the undersigned

Call on the Malaysian government in the name of justice, to ensure that it must be the employers of migrant workers that should be paying this Migrant Worker levy – not the migrant workers;

Call on the Malaysian government to also reconsider the increase of the levy rate, at this time whilst Malaysia, and especially small Malaysian businesses, are affected by the economic crisis and the effect of the falling Malaysian ringgit.

Call on the Malaysian government to increase the Minimum Wage of all workers in Malaysia to RM1,200 – RM1,500, to compensate for the increased cost of living in Malaysia, and the falling value of the Malaysian ringgit with  reference to the currency in migrant worker’s countries of origin.

Call on the Malaysian government to abolish the ‘contractor for labour’ system, and ensure that all workers that are working in a workplace are all recognised employees of the said workplace, and are treated equally as workers.

Charles Hector
Mohd Roszeli bin Majid
Pranom Somwong


For and on behalf of the 97 organisations, trade unions and groups listed below

ALIRAN
Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma)
Asia Monitor Resource Centre(AMRC)
Asia Floor Wage Alliance
Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)
Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters- Myanmar
Asociación de trabajadoras del Hogar a Domicilio y de Maquila, ATRAHDOM, Guatemala, Centro Amercia.
Bangladesh Groep Nederland (Bangladesh Group The Netherlands)
Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies- BILS
BLAST,  Bangladesh
Boat People SOS (BPSOS)
Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) Asia Pacific Region
Campagna Abiti Puliti – Italy
CARAM Asia
Clean Clothes Campaign International Office(CCC)
Club Employees Union Peninsular Malaysia(CEUPM)
Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA)
Crispin B. Beltran Resource Center (CBBRC),Philippines
CWI Malaysia (Committee for Workers International)
Defend Job Philippines
Fair – Italy
FAIR ACTION, Sweden
Foundation For Women, Thailand
Garment and Allied Workers Union, India
German Clean Clothes Campaign
Homeworkers Worldwide, United Kingdom
IDEAL (Institute for Development of Alternative Living)
IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC)
Institut Rakyat
International Labor Rights Forum
Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
Jatio Shromik Federation (JSF), Bangladesh
Karmojibi Nari (KN), Bangladesh
Kesatuan Pekerja-Pekerja Perodua
Kesatuan Sekerja Industri Elektronik Wilayah Selatan, Semenanjung Malaysia (KSIEWSSM)
Knowledge and Rights with Young people through Safer Spaces (KRYSS)
Labour Behind the Label
Labour Studies and Action Centre (CEREAL), Mexico
Legal support for Children and Women (LSCW), Cambodia
MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
Malaysian Election Observers Network
Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC)
MAP Foundation (Thailand)
MHS Aviation Employees Union
Migrante International
Mission for Migrant Workers
Myanmar Migrants Rights Centre
NAMM (Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia)
National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF), Bangladesh
National Union Employees in Companies Manufacturing Rubber Products (NUECMRP)
National Union of Transport Equipment & Allied Industries Workers (NUTEAW), Malaysia
NLD LA Malaysia
North South Initiative
Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute(OHMSI)
Panggau Sarawak
Paper Products Manufacturing Employees’ Union of Malaysia (PPMEU)
Parti Rakyat Malaysia(PRM)
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
Pax Romana ICMICA
Peoples Service Organisation (PSO)
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
Pertubuhan Angkatan Bahaman, Temerloh, Pahang, Malaysia
PROHAM -Persatuan Promosi Hak Asasi Manusia
Radanar Ayar Rural Development Association, Myanmar
Repórter Brasil
Safety and Rights Society, Bangladesh
Sahabat Rakyat
Schone Kleren Campagne (CCC Netherlands)
SEA Women's Caucus on ASEAN
Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW), Philippines
Sramik Nirapotta Forum, Bangladesh
SUARAM
Tenaga National Berhad Junior Officers Union (TNBJOU)
TENAGANITA Women’s Force, Malaysia
Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia
The Collectif Ethique sur létiquette, Clean Clothes Campaign French
Think Centre, Singapore
UNI Global Union
War on Want
WARBE Development Foundation, Bangladesh
WH4C (Workers Hub For Change)
Women Peace Network-Arakan, Myanmar
Women Rehabilitation Center (WOREC), Nepal
Workers Assistance Center, Inc (WAC) , Philippines
Vietnamese Women for Human Rights
Yaung Chi Oo Workers Association-YCOWA
Yayasan Lintas Nusa, Indonesia
IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh
International Trade Union Confederation(ITUC)
Women's Aid Organisation(WAO), Malaysia
PINAY (The Filipino Women's Organization in Quebec), Canada
Cividep India
Kesatuan Sekerja Industri Elektronik Wilayah Utara Semenanjung Malaysia
Centro Nuovo Modello di Sviluppo – Italy
National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (NUFAM)
Pusat KOMAS
Perak Women for Women Society (PWW)

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通告 Notification

人民之友 对我国下届大选意见书
(华 巫 英)3种语文已先后贴出

作为坚守“独立自主”和“与民同在”的立场的一个民间组织,人民之友在今年9月24日对即将来临的第14届全国大选投票,发表了一篇以华文书写的“意见书”,题为:投票支持"反对国家伊斯兰化的候选人": 反对巫统霸权统治!莫让马哈迪帮派"复辟"!

这篇意见书的英文译稿(标题是:Vote for “candidates who are against State Islamisation”: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent “the return to power of Mahathir’s faction”!)已于10月22日张贴在本部落格。马来文译稿(标题是:Undilah "calon yang membantah pengislaman negara": Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Mencegah puak Mahathir kembali kepada kuasa!)也已接着在11月13日在此贴出。

此外,人民之友也将通过电子邮件、微信、WhatsApp等方式,尽可能向全国各民族、各阶层、各行业、各宗教的团体和个人,传送我们的这份“意见书”供参考。我们欢迎跟我们对下届大选的立场和见解一致的团体和个人,将这份“意见书”传送到更多的人手中去!

我们希望,我们在意见书内所表达的对下届大选的立场和观点,能够准确而又广泛地传播到我国各民族、各阶层的人民群众中接受考验,并接受各党派在这次全国大选斗争和今后实践的检验。


Pandangan Sahabat Rakyat terhadap PRU akan datang telah diterbitkan dalam tiga bahasa (Melayu, Cina dan Inggeris)

Sebagai sebuah pertubuhan masyarakat yang berpendirian teguh tentang prinsip "bebas dan berautonomi" dan “sentiasa berdampingan dengan rakyat jelata”, Sahabat Rakyat telah menerbitkan kenyataan tentang pandangan kami terhadap Pilihan Raya Umum ke-14 yang bertajuk "Undilah calon yang menentang Pengislaman Negera: Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Jangan benarkan puak Mahathir kembali memerintah! " (投票支持"反对国家伊斯兰化的候选人": 反对巫统霸权统治!莫让马哈迪帮派"复辟"!)dalam Bahasa Cina pada 24hb September 2017.

Penterjemahan Bahasa Inggeris kenyataan tersebut yang bertajuk Vote for “candidates who are against State Islamisation”: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent “the return to power of Mahathir’s faction”! telah diterbitkan dalam blog kita pada 22hb Oktober 2017 manakala penterjemahan Bahasa Melayu telah diterbitkan pada 13hb November 2017.

Selain daripada itu, Sahabat Rakyat juga akan menyebarkan kenyataan ini seluas mungkin kepada pertubuhan dan individu semua bangsa, strata, profesyen dan agama seluruh Negara melalui email, wechat, whatsApp dan pelbagai saluran lain. Kami amat mengalu-alukan pertubuhan dan individu yang berpendirian dan pandangan sama dengan kami untuk turut menyebarkan kenyataan ini kepada lebih ramai orang!

Kami berharap pendirian dan pandangan kami berkenaan pilihan raya kali ini yang dinyatakan dalam kenyataan tersebut dapat disebarkan dengan tepat dan meluas untuk diuji dalam kalangan rakyat semua bangsa semua strata sosial melalui penglibatan mereka dalam amalan pelbagai parti politik dalam pertempuran pilihan raya umum kali ini mahupun amalan masa depan.


The Chinese, English and Malay renditions of Sahabat Rakyat’s opinions about next election have been published consecutively

As an NGO which upholds “independent and autonomous” position and "always be with the people" principle, on 24 September 2017, Sahabat Rakyat had released a Chinese-written statement of views with regard to the voting in the upcoming 14th General Election, entitled “Vote for candidates who are against State Islamisation: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent the return to power of Mahathir’s faction!” (投票支持"反对国家伊斯兰化的候选人": 反对巫统霸权统治!莫让马哈迪帮派"复辟"!)

The English rendition of this statement entitled "Vote for “candidates who are against State Islamisation”: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent “the return to power of Mahathir’s faction”!" and the Malay rendition entitled "Undilah "calon yang membantah pengislaman negara": Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Mencegah puak Mahathir kembali kepada kuasa!" had been released on 22 October and 13 November respectively.

Apart from that, Sahabat Rakyat will also make every effort to disseminate this statement as widely as possible to organizations and individuals of all ethnic groups, religions and all walks of life throughout the country via email, WeChat, WhatsApp and other channels. We welcome organizations and individuals with the same position and views to spread this statement to more people!

We hope that our position and views pertaining to the next General Election expressed in the statement will be accurately and widely disseminated and also examined by the popular masses of various ethnicity and social strata through their involvement in the struggle of the next General Election carried out by various political parties and their practices in all fields in future.

Malaysia Time (GMT+8)