Min­istry draft­ing laws to pro­tect for­eign con­struc­tion work­ers

New Straits Times - - News -

KUALA LUMPUR: To be­come a high-in­come na­tion, the gov­ern­ment plans to in­tro­duce new laws on hous­ing and ameni­ties for con­struc­tion work­ers.

Deputy Works Min­is­ter Datuk Ros­nah Ab­dul Rashid Shirlin said the Hu­man Re­sources Min­istry was draft­ing the new act. It would not only en­sure bet­ter wel­fare for for­eign work­ers but also el­e­vate the in­dus­try.

“It will im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity and do away with eye­sores in the form of work­ers’ quar­ters, or rumah kongsi.

“We need to put in place laws that would bet­ter reg­u­late the con­struc­tion in­dus­try. It is a ne­ces­sity,” she told the New Straits Times.

“We should not al­low un­scrupu­lous op­por­tunists to ma­nip­u­late for­eign work­ers. We need laws that would com­pel devel­op­ers to be more pro­fes­sional.”

A height­ened level of pro­fes­sion­al­ism, she said, would en­cour­age more lo­cals to con­sider tak­ing up jobs in con­struc­tion.

“Lo­cals are not keen to work in con­struc­tion be­cause of the per­cep­tion that their wel­fare would not be taken care of.”

Ros­nah said ad­vance­ments in the in­dus­try de­manded skilled work­ers and most for­eign labour­ers, de­spite their low wages, were not prop­erly trained.

“The use of mod­ern equip­ment, tech­nol­ogy and meth­ods re­quires skilled work­ers. It is no longer about ham­mers and saws.”

Last year, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Dr Ah­mad Zahid Hamidi said the gov­ern­ment would make it com­pul­sory for em­ploy­ers to pro­vide at least a min­i­mum stan­dard ac­com­mo­da­tion for their for­eign work­ers. He warned that em­ploy­ers who failed to com­ply with the rul­ing would not be able to hire new for­eign work­ers.

At present, there is the Work­ers’ Min­i­mum Stan­dards of Hous­ing and Ameni­ties Act 1990 (Act 446) for es­tate work­ers. How­ever, it does ap­ply to the con­struc­tion sec­tor.

Ac­cord­ing to Labour De­part­ment di­rec­tor-gen­eral Datuk Mohd Jef­frey Joakim, this re­sulted in con­trac­tors be­ing un­aware of the negative im­pacts of un­struc­tured and un­su­per­vised for­eign work­ers’ ac­com­mo­da­tion like so­cial prob­lems, spread­ing of dis­eases and pol­lu­tion.

To tackle this, amend­ments to Act 446 was be­ing looked into to include ex­pan­sion of its en­force­ment to all sec­tors.

For now, con­struc­tion com­pa­nies in­tend­ing to build their own work­ers’ ac­com­mo­da­tion are to com­ply with the Tem­po­rary Con­struc­tion Site Work­ers’ Ameni­ties and Ac­com­mo­da­tion — Code of Prac­tice (MS2593:2015) is­sued by the Stan­dards Malaysia De­part­ment un­der the purview of the Con­struc­tion In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment Board (CIDB).

The Labour De­part­ment car­ries out in­spec­tion on work­places and ac­com­mo­da­tions from time to time and upon ap­pli­ca­tion for for­eign work­ers re­cruit­ment.

Oth­er­wise, Jef­frey said em­ploy­ers were en­cour­aged to house their for­eign work­ers in a Cen­tralised Labour Quar­ters. (CLQ).

He said eight CLQs had been recog­nised by the de­part­ment.

Datuk Ros­nah Ab­dul Rashid Shirlin

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