PSM has lauded Education Minister Maszlee Malik for saying his ministry will do whatever it takes to resolve issues facing contract workers under its employment.
In doing so, the party's central committee member S Arutchelvan highlighted a few pressing concerns which he said could only be resolved by a joint ministerial-level meeting involving Maszlee, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran.
"The mother of all issues here is the contract worker system. Under this system which was started under Umno-BN rule, cronies were given contracts as a form of gratitude to buy their loyalty," he claimed in a statement today.
"We have already highlighted this issue to the minister. The only way out is to go back to the old system (pre-contract system) where schools will administer their own workers under a fixed-rate system."
Under the old system, Arutchelvan said, workers were ensured guaranteed work as stipulated by International Labour Organisation standards as well as the Federal Constitution.
"To revert to this, we understand a revamp needs to be done and it would take more time.
"But a deadline needs to be set so that this issue is not prolonged and repeated every three years when contracts and contractors change hands."
Arutchelvan slammed the practice of contracting permanent and long-term work as both morally and legally wrong.
"The immediate issue at hand is that 45,000 workers have reportedly lost their jobs," he said in calling for the emergency meeting.
"The finance minister needs to approve additional funds to ensure contract workers get their jobs and wages back.
"Until a proper formula is found, they should ensure all contract workers previously employed are not dismissed with just 24 hours’ notice."
Arutchelvan said Maszlee also needs to address the issue of current workers whose contracts are not renewed and who are unable to apply for termination benefits – as the contractor would claim they were not sacked, but simply that their terms had ended.
"They (the workers) cannot apply for the workers’ Employment Insurance Scheme (EIS) because, in order to receive this, they must get a termination letter and in this case, the parties concerned won’t issue such a letter.
“It is time for the ministerial meeting to resolve this important issue rather than pass the buck.
"The Pakatan Harapan government and Education Ministry have previously said that their policies are geared towards resolving problems faced by the B40 group. It is time to walk the talk."