Mp Suggests Three Options For Enforcing Workers Minimum Housing Standards
The government should discipline employers to enforce new rules governing workers' housing standards rather than allowing more leeways until the end of this year, according to Klang MP Charles Santiago.
Speaking to Malaysiakini, Charles proposed three options to be considered by the federal or state governments, with a bigger aim of reducing the number of Covid-19 infections and clusters among local and migrant workers.
"I think the government should discipline the industry because the industry will never say they are ready to enforce a new regulation," he said.
Charles (above) was referring to Human Resources Minister M Saravanan's reported announcement yesterday that employers will be given more time to comply with requirements under the Workers' Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990.
The amendments were passed by Parliament in July 2019, and enforcement was initially scheduled to start last June, before being postponed to Aug 1, and eventually enforced on Nov 26 last year.
Rather than bowing to the employers' demand for more time, Charles said the government should assist them to provide better workers' accommodations, for example, expediting approvals from bigger corporations to engage turnkey contractors to construct their dormitories.
"In the past, the approval process could take up to a year or more. The government should help the companies move the system faster.
"For the small and medium enterprises that cannot afford to put up their own dormitories, the government should then take responsibility to put up the facilities and rent them out to the companies," Charles said.
The government could also look into a joint venture with the private sector to put up the structures for benefit of SMEs.
Charles noted that not only do the numbers of Covid-19 cases among workers remain high, there was also the risk of re-infection, as recently recorded in Singapore among vaccinated foreign workers.
The Teratai cluster - which is linked to rubber glove factories and their workers' accommodations - is Malaysia's biggest cluster to date, with 7,205 cases at its close last Saturday. It was first classified on Nov 7 last year.
Senior minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced last year that the Human Resources Ministry would start enforcing the amended Act following the outbreak of positive cases at Top Glove's workers' dormitories.
Fines for not complying with the Act can go up to RM50,000.
Under the Emergency Ordinance, the ministry can also slap errant employers with an RM200,000 fine, jail of up to three years or punished them with both a fine and a jail term. - Mkini
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