Ministry proposes 20 percent deduction on foreign workers’ salaries

PUTRAJAYA: The Ministry of Human Resources has proposed for the employers to deduct 20 percent of their foreign workers’ basic salaries.

Its Minister M. Kula Segaran (pix) said the proposal, among others, aimed at preventing foreign workers from fleeing and to avoid employers from incurring losses on investments to bring the workers in.

He said the issue of foreign workers fleeing was among major problems faced by the employers and the proposal was seen as a relevant method in addressing the situation.

“The proposal has been submitted to the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) last week and it is open to being discussed among the stakeholders before it is finalised.

“If implemented, it is a win-win situation for employers and workers as both parties will benefit from the deduction,” he told a press conference after a dialogue session with 60 employers in the rubber glove industry here today.

Kula Segaran said the deduction of foreign workers’ wages would be kept in the Social Security Organisation (Socso) and to be handed over to them when they were leaving the country once after their work permit expired.

“The issue has also been raised in the meeting and majority of employers welcomed the proposal,” he said, adding that the government did not set any timeframe for the implementation and to leave it to the industry players whether to accept or reject the proposal.

He said the proposal was not new to the industry as it had been implemented in Japan and South Korea and it was successful in addressing the issue of foreign workers fleeing.

Kula Segaran said his ministry had also appointed Klang MP Charles Santiago as the coordinator of an independent auditor to carry out a comprehensive social compliance audit on rubber glove makers in the country.

He said Charles, an experienced activist involved in social audit nationwide before being elected as a people’s representative, was tasked to prepare reports to the ministry pertaining to the country’s rubber glove makers’ compliance to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Standards on Migrant Workers.

He said among the aspects to be focused on in the report would be the forced labour as well as issue of foreign workers being forced to work excessive overtime as well as several other criteria pertaining to migrant workers as set by the ILO.

“This report can be used by the government to respond to the allegations made by the British government, parliamentarians in Europe and foreign companies in regard to forced migrant labour,” he said.

On Dec 9, the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom reported that one the world’s largest rubber glove makers, Top Glove Corp Berhad, exploited thousands of foreign workers including forcing them to work over 160 hours a month, exceeding the legal limit of 104 hours allowed by Malaysian law.

According to the report, among problems faced by foreign workers, apart from excessive overtime, the workers were also exposed to “unsafe” factory conditions, confiscated passports, high recruitment fees that kept them in debt bondage and salaries withheld for months.

However, the claim was refuted by Kula Segaran on Tuesday after inspections carried out by his officers at almost all factories owned by the company here and in Ipoh, Perak, found foreign workers in the company were working overtime voluntarily as they want to earn more to send back to their respective countries. — Bernama