Pay workers’ salaries during Penang water supply disruption

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We, in the Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress, have been receiving complaints that employers are resorting to work replacements, annual leave deductions and even no pay during the impending shutdown due to the upcoming state-wide water supply disruption [scheduled for 10-14 January].

From reports received, employers are planning work replacements on public holidays that fall in the coming months. Alternatively, they are scheduling to replace the number of hours lost during the shutdown with extended work hours on other normal working days.

The Penang MTUC believes it is unfair to impose any form of replacement work hours or to work on public holidays to substitute for hours lost, as this would mean workers would have to work longer hours as a replacement. The same would be true if workers are forced to work on recognised public holidays.

Enforcing annual leave during the coming shutdown would also deprive workers of their annual leave entitlement. The worst-case situation would be where workers are placed on unpaid leave, which would translate to lower disposable monthly incomes.

In all the above circumstances, one fact remains – employers are taxing workers to replace lost production downtime and, in the process, making them work longer hours – all of which is free of additional rates of pay!

Clearly, it is a case of the workers having to make all the sacrifices, whereas the employers recoup production downtime at the expense of the workers!

Bearing in mind that the scale of the water disruption is unforeseen, unprecedented and probably a one-off occurrence, we call upon employers to grant full pay during the shutdown and not to resort to enforcing replacement work hours, work on replacement public holidays, enforced annual leave or no-pay leave.

READ MORE:  Water is back! Syabas to the workers!

As employers cannot unilaterally impose annual leave or no-pay leave, affected workers are advised to lodge a complaint with the Labour Department of the Ministry Of Human Resources, if such matters do occur.

We also advise workers not to sign any leave application forms, whether for annual leave or no-pay leave, as the case may be.

Workers who are required to work replacement hours or work on public holidays as a replacement are also advised to report this to the Labour Department. Working replacement hours or days and on public holidays (as a replacement) without the mandatory rates of pay may well be in breach of the relevant provisions of the Employment Act 1955, including Section 60A, which limits the total weekly work hours to a maximum of 45 hours.

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

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
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K Veeriah
K Veeriah, a longtime Aliran contributor, has been a trade union industrial relations officer, involved mainly in collective bargaining and handling trade disputes, since 1978. He has also served as secretary of the Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress since 1991, after stints on the MTUC's national executive committee and general council
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