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Decision on undocumented worker's right to claim unpaid wages deferred

Published:  |  Modified:

The Shah Alam High Court has deferred its decision on whether an undocumented worker has the right to claim over four years of unpaid wages, according to human rights group Tenaganita.

The group said the court wants to seek clarification from Wisma Putra and the Human Resources Ministry on whether Malaysia is a party to the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention on Migration for Employment and the Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, before making a decision on the right to redress for undocumented migrant workers.

It said the claimant’s lawyers will write to the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Human Resources Ministry as instructed by the judge.

“They hope to obtain a speedy response from the government agencies,” Tenaganita said in a statement last night.

The court has set April 15 as the date for the decision, it added.

The case concerns Indonesian national Nona (not her real name), who had been employed as a domestic worker and shop assistant for four-and-a-half years.

She told Malaysiakini that she did not see any of her RM550 monthly wages, which is less than the RM700 wage that she was promised by an agent before leaving her hometown.

She had filed claims amounting to RM30,265.32 through the Port Klang Labour Court with help from Tenaganita in 2018. 

However, labour director-general Misswandi Pardy rejected her claims, saying that undocumented workers have no right to file claims at the Labour Court.

They then appealed against the Labour Court decision at the Shah Alam High Court.

“Tenaganita’s position is that notwithstanding the fact that Malaysia has not ratified the ILO Convention (97) on Migration for Employment and the Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975, Malaysia is nevertheless a party to and bound by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to protect the rights of all human beings, including undocumented migrant workers.

“Furthermore, as a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Malaysia is bound to respect the rights of all migrant workers in line with the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998),” Tenaganita said.

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