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.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Press Release                                                                            1 May 2013

Solidarity message:  May Day 2013
“Free Somyot, All Political Prisoners and Abolish Lese Majeste Law in Thailand”

Today as we gather together to commemorate May Day let us remember the struggles of our brothers and sisters to improve our work and lives. All our rights as workers have been won through long, hard battles. Currently all over the world, worker activists face not only challenges from the bosses and owners, but also from governments which use unjust laws or military might to stop us from organising at work. Many of our brothers and sisters are in jail because of this repression.

In many countries in Asia we continue to see attacks on labour and democratic rights. For instance, Thailand has had 26 military coup d`etats in its modern history. The situation for labour and human rights activists in Thailand has now become very difficult. Since the 2006 coup d’etat, the widespread use of the repressive Lese Majeste law (Article 112 of Criminal Code of Thailand) has led to the imprisoning of hundreds of activists and civilians, both Thai and foreigners.

On 23 Jan 2013, labour activist and journalist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was jailed for 10 years (with another 1 year pending) for allegedly defaming the Thai Royal Family. 

Somyot's case has brought international attention to the situation in Thailand.

It has become obvious to all that Article 112 is being used by the Thai government and ruling elite to stifle dissent and suppress progressive activists and organizations. Article 112 stops people asserting their civil and political rights by making views opposed to the ruling regime illegal.

In such a climate of fear and repression, organising at workplaces and conducting campaigns by workers and trade unions becomes very difficult.

We call upon all Trade unions and progressive organisations around the world to continue to stand up for and support our brothers and sisters in Thailand.

Therefore, on the occasion of May Day, 2013, the international day of workers, we wish to declare our solidarity for all jailed, tortured and suffering activists in Thailand and all over the world.

We condemn the Thai government’s use of Article 112 ( Lese Majeste Law) against its opponents and consider its use an attack on basic human rights.
We call on the Thai government to drop the charges against Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, and to free all other political prisoners detained under Article 112.

We also call for the abolition Article 112.

Irene Xavier
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Workers of the world unite for a better future

Workers take to the streets on International Workers' Day in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe

Workers take to the streets on International Workers' Day in North and South America.

Boston-area workers share their stories as part of International Workers' Day.

I tried to put the South Korean union song but couldn't get it on youtube! The other song I tried to get by a labor activist in Canada, Art Farquharson, that too I couldn't get. I hope you had time to send messages of solidarity or joined marches with fellow comrades in our struggle to live a dignified life. Solidarity dear workers of the world.

Stop Union Busting!
Decent Wage Now!
Prioritise Workers' Rights. Malaysian Insider
On May 1, 2013, Asia Floor Wage Alliance demands
1) Immediate Stop to Attacks against Workers and Unions!
2) Delivery of Living Wage to Garment Workers!
Today is a Global Day of Action and Solidarity among workers worldwide! Today, we celebrate the victories of the labour movement won through bloody struggles of workers in Chicago, USA in 1886 for an 8-hour day.
But, we are also grimly reminded that laws won through such struggles will remain in books if workers do not continue to fight to implement them.
Top fashion Brands and Retailers in North America and Europe subject Asian garment workers every day to forced labour, wage theft, physical violence, poverty, and crippling malnutrition. They profit huge revenues daily as workers manufacturing their goods in the most “modern” supplier factories in Asia, face heinous violations of labour rights and civil rights.
Garment workers in Asia are stopped from organizing a collective voice as they are terrorized, imprisoned, terminated and blacklisted for forming a union.
Garment workers in Asia suffer from severe malnutrition, poverty, deaths and broken families as they cannot earn a decent wage to maintain themselves or their families in dignity.
Garment workers in Asia are treated as disposable workers as they are illegally hired as “contract labour” or on “short-term contracts” for regular jobs that require decent, regular employment.
Today, garment workers across Asia unite to demand an immediate end to such inhuman practices and to demand a living wage for an 8-hour work day!!
In 2009 a large Asian Alliance of unions and labour rights activists defined and calculated a floor wage (a minimum living wage) for Asian garment workers, which would guarantee that workers receive at least enough to meet basic needs for themselves and their families. The Asia Floor Wage (AFW) campaign is a collective demand for a minimum living wage for Asian garment workers who manufacture the majority of the world’s clothing.
Bangladeshi garment workers
The AFW Alliance urges global buyers to clean up their Global Supply Chain. They must make decent work for garment workers a condition for sourcing. They must factor in living wage demands into their price negotiations with suppliers. We urge our government to stand with us, the working people, to ensure that brands and retailers work with our supplier factories to deliver living wage during a standard working day for garment workers and to halt all forms of stacks on unionization, which is a treasured international labour and human rights standard.
Asia Floor Wage secretariat
*Asia Floor Wage is a minimum floor wage formula for Asian workers in the global garment supply chain – based on a family with food and non-food expenses. It translates into different local currencies through the PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) conversion factor for each country. In 2012, the formula was 540 PPP$. Visit for more details.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

May Day Message

In conjunction with May Day we, Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor, urge the political parties contesting the 13th General Election to pledge their support and prioritise the demands of workers throughout Malaysia. Workers form the backbone of this country's wealth. Yet all the election manifestos with the exception of PSM, do not show an understanding of the challenges workers are facing not only because of the global economic downturn but also because of the commitment to neo-liberal agenda by most governments, including the government of Malaysia.
'Workers determine the future'. May Day celebration in 2012.

 We wish to remind the next government that the  workers of this country want mechanisms put in   place that would
·         *   protect jobs,
·         *   provide decent work and
·          *  pay living wages for women and men who work.

We reject the notion that contract workers, domestic workers, home-based workers, migrant workers and all workers in the informal economy can work without protection from the labour laws including the right to form and join trade unions. Any reason to make workers work long hours so that their families’ basic needs be met, should be put to an end.firesteel

Union rights
May Day is celebrated so that workers can earn enough for their basic needs by 8 hours of work. Denying this in practice and giving a holiday on May Day is meaningless. Workers cannot go on sacrificing their rights to decent livelihoods to subsidise the economy. Workers cannot go on and allow owners to rob them of their wages. 

There must be change in workers' situation in addition to changes that the parties are talking about in their manifestos. We wish to reiterate that we will push the next government to give us our rights. We submit to you once again the Manifesto Pekerja that is attached.

Jaringan Pekerja* Demands

1.  Implement Minimum wage of RM1,500 per month: Minimum wage be clearly defined and implemented. Also Wage Council's meetings be made transparent.

2. Workers' rights be respected: Amendments should be made to the Employment Act 1955 and Industrial Relations Act 1967 that support workers' rights such as freedom to form unions, non-interference of the Registrar of Trade unions in union affairs.

2.1 Welfare of women workers: Maternity leave of 14 weeks be made compulsory. The working premises must have areas for breast feeding. Child care centres made compulsory and paid for by employers.

 2.2 Stop Free Trade Agreements negotiations: These negotiations between first world countries and Malaysia are not transparent. The agreement ignores  workers’ rights are and has a detrimental effect to the local economy. 

3.   Social Security Protection: Implement a pension scheme for private sector workers. To implement a minimum 5 day or 40 hours per week work period for a healthy life style. Also a Workers Dismissal Benefit fund be implemented for dismissed workers' to cope with the loss of income.
Workers are the power for change

     4.  Health and Safety of workers: SOCSO should cover workers outside working hours and the process of claims should be simplified. The scheme should cover spouses and their children.

     5.  Dignified living standards: Stop the privatisation of hospitals, water and electricity which affects the workers living standards. Stop the direct and indirect taxes on food, transport and housing where escalating prices affect a dignified way of living.

*Alliance of several unions and NGOs.