A cost of living allowance (Cola) of RM300, 98-day maternity leave, seven-day paternity leave, 30-day paid leave for Muslim workers to perform the haj and housing allowances based on the cities are among the sweeping labour reforms sought by the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC).
These are among the proposals the labour centre has submitted to the government which is in the process of reviewing three key labour laws as promised by Pakatan Harapan in their 14th general election manifesto.
In what it terms as a bid to bring dignity to the Malaysian workforce, which it claims has not been given the rightful recognition, the MTUC has asked the National Labour Action Council to ensure the government and employers give utmost importance to job security as well as decent work.
MTUC secretary-general J Solomon said the labour laws in Malaysia have become archaic since most of these were promulgated in the 1950s and 1960s.
“The environment has changed over the years, and there is far greater recognition about human dignity, human values, worker rights. It is long overdue for a comprehensive overhaul of various labour laws.
“We thank the human resources minister who has initiated the Labour Law Reform under the new government which MTUC has been championing since the 1970s,” he said in a statement.
The proposals include, raising the minimum salary from RM2,000 a month to RM10,000 for workers to be covered under the Employment Act 1955, maternity leave to be raised from 60 days to 98 days, and paternity leave of seven days.
Other proposals include ensuring both domestic workers and foreign workers are 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 workers health and reduce medical cost and medical examination, consultation and all treatments to be borne by the employer.
MTUC also said that where there were more than 100 employees, the employer should provide a child care centre within the vicinity of the company or alternatively, pay an allowance of RM300 as child care subsidy for children aged seven and below, up to a maximum of five children.
The proposals also called for the employer to provide a safe and hygienic room for lactating mothers, increased sick leave to 30 days from the current 15 and a 60-day hospitalisation irrespective of their years of service and that the worker should be allowed to utilise unused sick leave for hospitalisation in addition to the 60-day hospitalisation.
The trade union also proposed a Cola of RM300 per month, termination benefits of a minimum of two months for every year of service irrespective of the number of years of service.
MTUC said that all Muslim workers should also be granted 30-day paid leave to perform haj.
Its other proposals included 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.
The three laws that will be reviewed are the Employment Act 1955, Industrial Relations Act 1967 and Trade Union Act 1959.
On union membership which stands at only about six percent of the workforce today, MTUC proposed that it be made mandatory for every worker to join a union as every worker has the right to be represented by the union in employment issues.
Solomon said Malaysia’s aim to achieve the status of a high-income nation not only needed quality workers but also quality employers as the workers’ wellbeing and dignity were important for increased productivity.
“The MTUC is confident that the government and employers will 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 each 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 the high-income nation,” Solomon said.
He also urged Malaysian workers to put all differences aside and be united to pursue this cause for the better future of their families.
“We have waited for 60 years to see this labour law reform and let’s do it together and none should disrupt this golden opportunity that we strongly believe will realise our dream,” he added.