Monday, July 5, 2010

Unpaid workers issue just the tip of the iceberg

Monday July 5, 2010


PETALING JAYA: Cases of Indonesian construction workers not getting their salary occur in many Malaysian project sites, said Indonesian embassy official.
Information, social and cultural affair counsellor Widyarka Ryananta said that based on observation and complaints received from workers, many contractors took advantage of the workers, many of whom did not have work permits.
He was commenting on The Star report on June 27 on the plight of the workers at the new Istana Negara construction site in Jalan Duta in Kuala Lumpur where workers claimed they were not paid for three months.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg. It also occurs in many other project sites,” said Widyarka, adding that most workers were helpless as they were illegal.
“They come in as tourists but join the work force.
“Employers keep their passports and exploit them due to their vulnerability,” he said.
Widyarka added that the embassy was working with the Malaysian Government to enable workers to hold on to their passports.
“This is one of the issues that we are planning to include in the next memorandum of understanding between the two countries,” he said.
Widyarka said in many cases, the problem arose when main contractors let out work to sub-contractors who hired foreign workers, resulting in the main contractor not dealing directly with the workers.
“That’s where the problem lies. Main contractors may pay the subs, but who is there to ensure that they pay the workers on time or pay at all?
“Perhaps the main contractors should be responsible enough to see to it that workers are duly paid by their sub-contractors,” Widyarka said.

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