The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) is seeking labour reforms. Among them are RM300 cost of living allowance, housing allowances as well as 30 days paid leave for Muslim workers to perform the haj. Also proposed was a 98-day maternity and seven-day paternity leave respectively.

MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon said labour laws in Malaysia have become archaic since most of these were introduced in the 50s and 60s. “The environment has changed over the years, and there is far greater recognition about human dignity, human values and worker rights. “It is long overdue for a comprehensive overhaul of various labour laws,” he said in a statement on Sunday (June 9).

He said the proposals made to the government included raising the minimum salary from RM2,000 a month to RM10,000 for workers to be covered under the Employment Act 195, maternity leave to be raised from 60 days to 98 days, and paternity leave of seven days. “Other proposals were to include both domestic and foreign workers to be covered under the Employment Act, a 15-minute break for every two hours of work to enable workers to do light stretching exercises to improve their health and reduce medical cost.

He said they also proposed for the employer to provide a safe and hygienic room for lactating mothers, increase sick leave of 30 days (currently 15) and 60 days hospitalisation irrespective of their years of service. “A cost of living allowance of RM300 per month and termination benefits shall be a minimum of two months for every year of service irrespective of the number of years of service. “All Muslim workers be granted 30 days paid leave to perform haj; and housing allowance of RM300 to workers in urban areas or alternatively, to provide subsidy on housing loan interest rates for those earning less than RM10,000,” he said.

Solomon added that the Employment Act 1955, Industrial Relations Act 1967 and Trade Union Act 1959 need to be reviewed. With union membership standing at only about 6% of the workforce today, MTUC also proposed that it be mandatory for every worker to join a union “as every worker has a right to be represented by the union in employment issues”.

“Malaysia’s aim to achieve a high income nation not only needs quality workers but also quality employers as the workers’ wellbeing and dignity are important for increased productivity,” he said. Solomon said MTUC was confident that the government and employers would seriously consider the above proposals. “The need to bridge the income gap cannot be prolonged and all stakeholders need to change their mindset in sharing the wealth of the nation equitably as every Malaysian needs to contribute towards the progress of the nation. “Workers too should change their work culture and behaviour in view of the need for Malaysians to grow and to have a share of the fruits of a high income nation,” Solomon added.

Source: MTUC/The Star