Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Myanmar workers stand up and win

I thought this was an encouraging development in the defense of workers' rights.

26 ex-employees - all Myanmars - of Jogoya an upscale restaurant at Starhill successfully stood up against alleged unfair termination of employment and deductions made to their wages. Their plight was publicised back in March 9 when Malay Mail first broke the story that they were 'unlawfully fired' and given a week to move out of their quarters.
The 26 Myanmar workers who claimed to have been duped by their former employer, an upscale restaurant in Starhill Gallery here, finally had their demands met and will get to return home.

The Malay Mail learnt that negotiations between the workers and Jogoya Restaurant concluded last Wednesday and matters were settled amicably via intervention by the Federal Territories Labour Department and the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC).

At the end of negotiations, held at the FT Labour office in Wisma Perkeso, Jalan Ampang, Jogoya management agreed to return all levies deducted from the workers’ salaries from April 1, 2009 up until last month.

With each worker’s monthly levy being RM150, total levies deducted for all 26 Myanmar workers for 11 months would have amounted to RM42,900.

Jogoya also agreed to pay the workers their full salaries for January and February 2010 as well as their service points for January, which were previously held back after the restaurant claimed poor performance by the workers.

Jogoya additionally provided full airfare tickets for the workers who had been with the restaurant for more than three years, and a RM250 airfare subsidy for those who worked under three years.
You can read all about it here at human rights activist Charles Hector's blog.

The same blog post also reported that MTUC secretary-general, G. Rajasekaran, expressed surprise that the Federal Territories Labour Department had had enterd negotiations with Jogoya Restaurant when legal action ought to have been initiated against them.

Meanwhile Malaysikini reports on Amnesty International's public statement on Malaysia's appalling treatment of migrant workers. The report said that many of the 2.2 million migrant workforce were "lured" here and "used in forced labour or exploited in other ways".
Amnesty also documented over a dozen cases in which Malaysian immigration officials allegedly handed over Myanmar detainees to traffickers operating on Malaysia's northern border with Thailand between 2006 and 2009.

"The Malaysian government has the responsibility to prevent such abuses, but instead facilitates trafficking through its loose regulation of recruitment agents and through laws and policies that fail to protect workers," it said.

More: New York Times - Report Says Migrants in Malaysia Face Abuse

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Shift happens

There's so much drama in our part of the world it's easy to think it's a sign of life. Or progress. You wish. Shift happens. And unless we recognise it, the country will end up a footnote on the trash heap of history.

Here's a video to jolt your senses and and wake you to the big picture. A little old, first posted in 2007 when MySpace was er, cool - it's been forwarded like maybe a gazillion times now - but that's exactly the point. The world is not going to wait for Malaysia to get her act together..........