Establish migrant worker affairs division in human resources ministry

Photograph: The roads travelled for work - Women Migrant Workers in Singapore and Malaysia by UN Women Gallery/Flickr

Millions of migrant workers, documented or otherwise, are keeping the country’s economic sectors in motion.

Unfortunately, we are constantly reminded of the unfair treatment of vulnerable migrant workers, especially in matters such as forced labour indicators.

Though such issues need to be comprehensively addressed, we have not yet established a specialised platform to address the grievances, complaints and concerns of the migrant workers.

The Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress therefore calls upon the human resources minister to establish a migrant worker affairs department in the Ministry Of Human Resources to deal with all migrant workers’ complaints and grievances. Such a specialised subdivision, in our view, would serve as a point of reference in all matters affecting migrant workers.

By housing migrant workers affairs under a specialised subdivision within the ministry, it would, firstly, provide for a specific point of reference regarding issues involving migrant workers and, secondly, ease the current workload of the officers in the Labour Department (Jabatan Tenaga Kerja) who are already taxed in carrying out a multitude of responsibilities.

In establishing such a division, we suggest that it be empowered to receive, investigate and prosecute delinquent employers in matters such as non-compliance with International Labour Organization forced labour indicators and the Workers Minimum Standard Of Housing And Amenities Act, 1990.

We believe the establishment of a migrant worker affairs department is within the jurisdiction of the human resources minister and, as such, implore upon him to take the initiative to do so in the overwhelming interest of the millions of migrant workers who are contributing immensely to the economy of our country.

READ MORE:  Does Malaysia really have a 'labour shortage'?

K Veeriah is secretary of the Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress

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