Monday, 4 May 2015

May Day Celebrations Marred by Arrests

This year’s May Day is clouded by many government actions against workers and their defenders. The Human Resources Minister has denied the workers of this country an increase in the Minimum Wage that was due on 1 January this year. This has been compounded by the imposition of the GST which is a burden on the ordinary worker. How will a worker on minimum of RM 900 pay for the GST? The workers certainly have been burdened by this government.
May Day 2015

The senseless and unwarranted arrests of human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, parliamentarian, editors, a cartoonist is the government’s strategy in covering up from public view the real issues of the Malaysian economy and its effects on ordinary Malaysians.
Trying to remain legitimate the police used the courts to slam a May Day rally in Kota Kinabalu to curb protests on the burden of Goods Services Tax (GST) on people’s lives.
May Day, 2015
We condemn these arrests and harassment of these individuals and groups who speak of the injustices to the people of Malaysia and the government’s disrespect for their dignity.

The tactics the government uses are to:
1. Create panic, fear and
2. strain the resources of individuals and groups – families and groups kept busy outside lockups
The methods used are:
1. Those arrested are punished or harassed but no investigation is done
2. Arresting people in the middle of the night or use kidnap tactics
3. Charging individuals on baseless grounds
4. To censor social media – through blogs, twitter, facebooks, web news and others
5. Using the courts to rubber stamp the policing
Speeches at KLCC, Jalan Ampang
These tactics by the government of Najib Tun Razak is to shroud the public on the shady deals on 1MDB (1 Malaysia Development Berhad), the high prices of goods such as cars and medicine. He U-turned on many of his promises and one of them, the repealing the Sedition Act; launched a weak budget burdening the people of Malaysia with GST. Before the launch of the 11th Malaysia Plan no shortcomings or achievements were made of the 10th Malaysia Plan. The 10th Malaysia Plan was to see the growth of Small Medium Enterprise (SME) as it contributed 33% to the GDP in 2013. But it has dwindled by 10% which means an increase in unemployment.
The present Inspector General of Police (IGP) has misused his powers and is a puppet of the Barisan Nasional (the ruling party) whose aim is to keep ordinary citizens shrouded in fear and clueless about the actual state of this nation. The police force in this country can longer be trusted to keep the security and uphold the safety and well-being of the people of this country.

We demand that
1. The GST be withdrawn
2. The minimum wage be increased from RM900 to RM1,500 per month so workers are able to live dignified life
3. The IGP be sacked to restore the confidence in the police force
4. To stop the harassment, detention and arrests of people who have the fundamental right to assemble and express their grievances against injustices.
5. The government be transparent in all its policies.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Protest at the Cambodian Embassy

On a rainy morning on 10th Jan, 2014, unions and a few NGOs were at the Royal Cambodian Embassy to protest on the State's violent treatment of Cambodian workers in their own country. We met the third Secretary of the Embassy to hand in our protest letter. The workers demanded for minimum wage but was beaten violently by police and locked up in a notorious prison meant for hardened criminals. MTUC, TNB Junior Officers union, Dignity International, Suaram, Jerit, Committee for Asian Women and Persatuan Sahabat Wanita members were there.
In the embassy meeting the  of the third secretary of the embassy. In the foreground on left is Lee Siew Hwa representating the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, Irene Xavier representing Committee for Asian Women

Minimum Wage vs Living Wage in Asia

The exchange rate 1Euro equals to Malaysian Ringgit RM4.33 (10 Jul, 2014). The minimum wage in Malaysia is RM900 and Living wage is RM1,564.04. The minimum wage is 54% of the Living Wage.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Living Wage Campaign

Living wage campaign
Source: IndustriALL.globalunion
Poverty wages have a devastating impact on workers, in Cambodia thousands of malnourished workers have fainted in the last 2 years and in Bangladesh workers are being forced to survive on a dollar a day.

From Africa to Asia and Latin America the Living Wage is a global issue and central to the Decent Work Agenda. IndustriALL is campaigning on this issue with its affiliates.

What about Malaysia? Why are unions afraid of the living wage? Why are employers wary of minimum wage? How do we convince Members of Parliament (MPs) of a living wage rather than a minimum wage? There is a hue and cry about the minimum wage there would be a tsunami if it came to living wage. But could we convince them? Questions and more questions ... hopefully the following articles can shed light on a "long and narrow tunnel".

For more read this.

South African garment workers strike on low wages
10,000 Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu) members embarked on a two day protected strike action against continued undermining of the clothing bargaining council and payment of wages below the legally prescribed levels.
For more read this.

SACTWU steps up the fight for a living wage
The Southern African Clothing and Textile Worker Union (SACTWU) put together national sectoral demands and an aggressive programme of action based on the 16,000 living wage demands collected from its members.
For more read this.

Minimum wage needed to push back exploitation in Uganda
In February 2013, the Ugandan government agreed to renew efforts to establish a minimum wage, after decades of immobility on the matter.
For more read this.

Home  About IndustriALL Global Union
IndustriALL Global Union represents 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors and is a new force in global solidarity taking up the fight for better working conditions and trade union rights around the world.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Malaysia: Minimum wages for all

Malaysia: Minimum wages for all | 

Pic courtesy of
14.02.2013 Malaysian trade unions and civil society called on the Malaysian government to withdraw the recent cabinet decision that allow the employer to deduct from the migrant workers’ wages of the amount employer paid to the government to employ foreign workers.

In July 2012 the Malaysian government announced that workers in Malaysia would receive minimum wages of RM 900[USD291] (for Peninsular Malaysia) and RM800 [USD259] (for Sabah and Sarawak). The announcement came into force from 1 January 2013. The minimum wage is a basic wage excluding overtime, existing allowances and other benefits. However, to avoid paying minimum wages some employers calculate other benefits as part of minimum wage and some force workers to sign that they received minimum wages, while actually paying them less.
For more see
The US minimum wage earner's RM24.29/hour compare this to
Malaysia's minimum wage earner of RM4.33/hour of which
RM2.21 goes to 3.8Litres of milk and s/he has to work 1/2 hour
just to get 3.8L of milk. Pic courtesy of

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Why is the middle class disappearing? Here are some clues

Courtesy of
"The modelling industry is totally unregulated and lawless.  A lot of these models start at 13, 14, 15 ... these girls are working for big coporates like Calvin Klein ... noone  is asking has this child gone to school? ..." Sara Ziff

There was a time when the jobs our parents and grandparents had were pretty crappy, too. Folks got together and changed that for the better, much like some who work for minimum wage are trying to do now — or, in the case of the models starting at 0:50, who work for clothes instead of wages. 

"In the mid 1950s 1 in 3 American workers were in a labour union" says Dorian Warren, Assistant Professor, Columbia University. He continues, "They were crappy jobs ... but through collective action through sacrifice and struggle these unions really made these jobs good jobs."

Sandy Pope, President Teamesters Local 805 says "All our unions including ours became complacent, we left the streets, stop engaging management ... it turned into business."

Willis J. Goldsmith, Management Labour Lawyer, Jones Day New York says, "Do I think people should be paid so little they can't survive? No! How you factor in the componenets of survival ... you need a big car, a little car?"

Sara Ziff, Founder, The Model Alliance says of the fashion industry, "tired old topic ... models looking skinny ... they are missing the fact that they are 13 or 14 you have basically an industry that depends on the labour force of children ..."

Warren says that with globalisation the American industry does not need an American middle class to prosper, "... Walmart is the largest employer ... they maintain a union free workforce ..."

Goldsmith says that the low membership of the unions is due to globalisation and their inability to argue that they can add economic value.

Pope says, "American corporates are cutting their nose to spite their face ... the more they outsource ... they'll forego health care, pension ... they are following it with a vengeance to get rid of unions once and for all."

Do watch this video:

Malaysian economy feels sick