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Who Is Fickle-Minded ? Psm Slams Human Resource Minister

Once again it is clear that the Malaysian cabinet lacks a minister to adequately represent the interests of workers, and that the Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Subramaniam and his ministry are biased in favour of employers.

Dr Subramaniam’s statement yesterday echoing the claim of employers that a job-hopping young Malaysian workforce was what drove employers to hire foreign labour is disappointing. He took it upon himself to chide these young workers calling them fickle-minded for ‘liking’ to jump from one company to another and advised that they should be educated on the consequences.

Workers have a right to choose their jobs. You can’t want the free market and also wail against it at the same time. Further, to say young workers are fickle-minded about jobs is akin to saying workers change jobs because they are fussy about the colour of the factory walls. It is an irresponsible statement because it deliberately ignores and hides the underlying fact that workers are forced to look for other jobs when work conditions become unbearable.

Instead of considering this factor, the minister seems to be readily buying what really is a justification invented by employers for hiring foreign workers. Many employers greatly desire foreign workers as they are even more exploitable than their Malaysian counterparts, especially young Malaysian workers. They are cheaper, and their docility is assured by wrongful and unjust practices such as the withholding of passports and cancelling of work permits at will by bosses. Intimidating immigration officials and impracticable labour laws offer further support for employers in hiring foreign workers.

It is difficult to imagine that the minister is unaware of all this.

Malaysian workers need a genuine representative in government, someone who listens to workers as well and someone who is familiar with the hardship faced by the working poor. We need someone who will fight for a better minimum wage, one that takes into account the cost of living, and one that truly increases their buying power, not one that merely repackages existing allowances and incentives with wages. The workers representative must prevent the erosion of existing rights and safeguard job security by blocking the contractualisation of labour for non-seasonal work

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