Saturday, June 25, 2011

[Parlimen Sungai Siput] Less rights for subcontracted workers

Patrick Lee  | June 23, 2011 
Amendments to the Employment Act will favour investors over workers, especially subcontracted ones, an MP said.

KUALA LUMPUR: Subcontracted employees will enjoy less workplace protections if amendments to the Employment Act are passed, an MP warned.Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj said that the proposed 2011 amendments merely formalised unethical practices that were already in place. "The problem with these amendments is what they do not say," he told FMT at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

Jeyakumar, who is also Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) member, said that it was a common practice for local companies to hire subcontractors to do their work.

In turn, these subcontractors would hire their own employees to perform the work for these companies.
Subcontracted employees, Jeyakumar said, could still make "limited claims" from companies if they were not properly paid by the subcontractors for their services.But with the amendment's presentation in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, this ability to do so was taken away from them, he added.
Instead of hiring their own staff, Jeyakumar said that many companies were using subcontracted employees to perform integral, as opposed, to additional duties for them.

"You can get an entire workforce through a subcontractor of labour," he said.
"You don't have to pay them directly. You can pay the subcontractor, and the subcontractor would pay you (the employee). So this means legally, you're not my employee."
This practice, he claimed, prevented the affected workers from forming unions or being given the power to sue these companies if they were laid off.Jeyakumar alleged that people only needed minimal funds to become subcontractors of labour.

"You don't need capital (to become a subcontractor), nothing. You only get a list of people, and you supply (the employees) to me," he said.He also said that there were some instances where former permanent employees were coerced into working under these subcontractors.
He claimed that some employers would tell their workers that they were going to subcontract their work, and then direct these employees to labour subcontractors."(They say) if you want continue to work in this section, you can, but it would be with the subcontractor," Jeyakumar said.Asked why companies would resort to these methods, Jeyakumar said that it was cheaper to subcontract than to have permanent employees.
"What we need now in the Employment Act is to strip the whole contractualisation of workers, and restrict it only to jobs that are seasonal," he said

However, he sees little hope that the human resources ministry will enforce stringent restrictions against subcontractors.He said that comments directed at minister Dr S Subramaniam, though entertained, were never really followed through with.

Posted By Pemuda Sosialis to Parlimen Sungai Siput at 6/25/2011 01:07:00 AM

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