News/Malaysia: Call for special fund to protect foreign workers

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Subject: News/Malaysia: Call for special fund to protect foreign workers
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Thu Sep 02 1999 - 11:09:21 EDT


Call for special fund to protect foreign workers
Business Times (Malaysia), August 30, 1999

GROWING numbers of employers absconding without meeting their legal and
moral obligations have made it necessary for a special fund for foreign
workers to be established.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary general G. Rajasekaran
said employers bringing in foreign workers must be asked to contribute
towards the special fund.

The utilisation should include payment of retrenchment benefits, unpaid
wages and the cost of repatriation.

"The need for the creation of such a fund should be treated with urgency
because reports of employers absconding without meeting their legal
obligations is increasing," he added.

In a statement released in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Rajasekaran cited
several cases of unscrupulous employers shortchanging their foreign workers.

In August this year, the Labour Court awarded a sum of RM85,590 to be paid
out to 18 Bangladeshi workers of Klang-based Jannik Metal Works Sdn Bhd.

The company however has not complied with the court order.

Following the termination, the 18 Bangladeshis had to leave the country
without receiving their dues and in the meantime, the company has been
placed under receivership.

Rajasekaran said MTUC had received letters from these workers asking for
the union's help to secure their payments.

In another case, the services of an Iraqi, employed as a technical manager,
was terminated in May, and the Industrial Court awarded a sum of RM90,000.

The Iraqi's employer Kulim Enterprises Sdn Bhd is now under liquidation and
it has refused to comply with the award.

"Such shameful behaviour by irresponsible employers will seriously affect
the image of Malaysia. Foreigners who are robbed of their dues and without
jobs would be forced into criminal activities such as robbery," Rajasekaran
said.

He said the Government should therefore require all employers who bring in
foreign workers to contribute towards this proposed fund and employers who
have fulfilled their obligations and sent back their workers should be
given a refund.

"This will ensure that only those who fail to comply will have to pay for
their irresponsible action," he added.

Melanie Orhant
morhant@igc.org
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