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

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Migrant Workers Wages Consultation Workshop

Trade unionists from electronic industry Saharuddin Adnan
and Bruno Pereira and union representative from
Textile and garment workers union- central region. 

The President of the Malaysian Trade Union Congress,
Selangor, Bro Gopal. 
Bro Bruno presented the
impact of the labour outsourcing on workers' rights.
Migrant worker organizer, Tuonton explained
the working situation
of Burmese migrant workers.

Irene Xavier briefed the Meeting on
the aims and agenda.
24 August 2013, Friends of Women (Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor) organized a national meeting in partnership with Clean Clothes Campaign and Asia Floor Wage Alliance. 
Irene Fernandez, from Tenaganita explained the working
situation of migrant workers in Malaysia and the shortcomings of
policy/legislation to protect the migrant workers. She called
for the living wage to be implemented in Malaysia.
Delegates and organisers of the Consultation
 The half day national meeting aimed at defending the rights of migrants workers to have a decent living wage in Malaysia.

Almost 30 delegates came, they were organisers of migrant workers, unionists, NGOs - Tenaganita and JERIT, migrant workers from Nepal and Burma, ILO-Malaysia representative and Bar Council member.

It was held at the Shah Village Hotel, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.