Friday, 28 October 2011

Protect Workers Rights:

Media Statement – 28/10/2011 (107 Groups)

Malaysia Must Protect Worker and Union Rights, and withdraw

proposed unjust amendments to Employment Act

- Labour Suppliers Should Not Be Employers -

We, the undersigned 107 organizations, groups and networks are disturbed that the Malaysian government has proceeded to table, and get it passed speedily on 6/10/2011 at the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representative) the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2011 despite protests from workers, trade unions and civil society. The proposed changes to the Employment Act would be most detrimental to worker rights, trade unions and the existing just direct 2-party employment relationship between worker and end-user (the principal). Malaysia’s action goes contrary to justice. In many countries employers have been wrongly trying to avoid/disguise employment relationships by way of contracts/agreements and triangular relationships, and Malaysia rather than fighting against this negative trend is now trying to legalize it, hence showing itself to be anti-worker anti-unions.

We note also that the amendments would result in discrimination at the workplace, as many workers at a factory, plantation or any workplace would end up being no longer employees of the owner-operator of the said workplace, also referred to as the principal or end-user, but would remain employees of the supplier of workers, known as ‘contractor for labour’. Workers doing the same work at the factory, would be treated differently in terms of wages, work benefits and even rights by reason of the fact that their employers are different. This will also go against the Malaysian Federal Constitution that guarantees equality of persons. We advocate that all workers working at a factory or workplace are entitled to be treated equally in terms of wages, work benefits, rights, union rights, reliance on collective agreements and other entitlements.

The proposed amendment would also destroy direct employment relationships between owner-operator of workplaces, being the principal, and the workers that work there producing the product or providing the services from which these principals derive their profits. A just employment relationship dictates that all workers should be employees of the owner-operator employer not some other third party labour supplier, whether they be known as ‘contractor for labour’, outsourcing agent or by any other name. The relationship must be a direct relationship, to the exclusion of all third parties, between the employer who needs workers to do the work to produce the goods of their business for profits, and the workers directly who provide the necessary labour as required in exchange for fair wages and other benefits. The availability of short-term employment contracts is another reason why there is no need to legalize triangular or other employment relationships in Malaysia through the creation of the ‘contractor for labour’.

To fight for decent wages and rights, and to be able to negotiate and get better working conditions and other work benefits, workers at a workplace would generally come together collectively or as a union to be able to negotiate from a stronger position with employers, and this would result in agreements or ‘collective agreements’ between employers and workers (or their unions). If the amendments proposed become law, then many workers at the factory would effectively lose their rights to be able to form or be members of the trade union at the workplace, or the right to directly and effectively negotiate with the principal who effectively controls the work place, working conditions and benefits.

If the proposed amendment becomes law, effectively it will also weaken existing workers and unions, by reducing their negotiating power for now when a strike or a protest in called, there will be other workers of other third party employers who will continue to work normally thus making worker struggle for better rights almost impossible. This proposed amendment is a ‘union busting’ exercises and allows employers to utilize ‘divide and rule’ tactics to counter legitimate demands of their workers and avoid employer obligations and responsibilities. Another unjustifiable proposed changed is the delay of payment of overtime and work on rest days by a month.

With regard to sexual harassment, the new provision provides only for inquiry by employer even when the alleged perpetrator is a member of the management, a partner, shareholder and/or director of the employer’s business, and provides no clear right of appeal to the Labour Courts or the High Court. Note that other worker rights violations are currently all dealt with by the definitely more independent Labour Department or Industrial Relations Department. Remedy for the victim of sexual harassment is also absent, save maybe the right to resign without the need to give the required notice when the perpetrator is a sole proprietor.

The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC), which represents over 800,000 workers of member unions, who is also is the accepted workers representative in Malaysia, picketed calling for the withdrawal of the amendments on 3/10/2011, and apparently despite the Minister assuring them that the amendment will only be tabled at the end of the month, was suddenly rushed and passed at the Lower House of Malaysia’s Parliament on 6/10/2011.

Malaysia has the Private Employment Agencies Act 1971, whereby these agencies rightfully get workers for employers, who then pay them a fee for the service, and once workers are received by the employer, these workers immediately become employees of the said employer. The amendments will creates a new kind of labour supply companies who will continue as employers of the workers even after they start working at the workplace of the principal, and this is unacceptable. All companies in the business of finding workers for companies that need workers to produce their products or for their business must be private employment agencies, and must never assume or retain the role of employers.

As the said Bill still needs to be passed by the Senate and receive royal assent, before it becomes law, we call on the Malaysian government to act in the best interest of workers and their unions and immediately withdraw this unjust proposed amendments to Employment Act 1955.

We call on Malaysia to immediately discontinue its policy of recognizing outsourcing agents, and act immediately against practices of some employers and outsourcing agents that try to avoid/disguise employment relationships to the detriment of workers and unions.

We call on countries and regional bodies, companies, ILO, trade unions and persons to do the needful to ensure that worker and union rights, not just of local but also migrant workers, are protected in Malaysia, and that the employment relationship continue to be between owner-operator end user employers who actually need workers to do work and the workers that work there to the exclusion of any third party labour suppliers or ‘contractors for labour’.

Charles Hector

Pranom Somwong

For and on behalf of the 107 Organisations listed below:-

Abra Migrant Workers Welfare Association - Hong Kong (AMWWA)

Abra Tinguian Ilocano Society - Hong Kong (ATIS-HK)

ALIRAN, Malaysia

All Women's Action Society (AWAM), Malaysia

Asian Migrants Center (AMC), Hong Kong

Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC), Hong Kong

Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)

Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body - Hong Kong (AMCB)

Association for Community Development-ACD, Bangladesh

Association of Concerned Filipinos in Hong Kong (ACFIL-HK)

Association of Indonesia Migrant Workers in Indonesia (ATKI-Indonesia)

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)

BAYAN Hong Kong

Building and Wood Worker's International (BWI) Asia Pacific

Burma Campaign, Malaysia

Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)

Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)

Center for Indonesian Migrant Workers (CIMW)

Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR)

Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC)

Coordination of Action Research on Aids and Mobility (CARAM-ASIA)

Committee for Asian Women (CAW)

Community Action Network (CAN), Malaysia

Confederation of Voluntary Associations (COVA), Hyderabad, India

Cordillera Alliance Hong Kong (CORALL-HK)

Democratic Party For A New Society (DPNS), Burma

Dignity International, Malaysia

Education and Research Association for Consumers Malaysia (ERA Consumer Malaysia)

Filipino Friends Hong Kong (FFHK)

Filipino Migrants Association - Hong Kong (FMA)

Filipino Migrant Workers' Union - Hong Kong (FMWU)

Filipino Women Migrant Workers Association - Hong Kong (FILWOM-HK)

Foundation for Women, Thailand

Friends of Bethune House (FBH), Hong Kong


GABRIELA Philippines

Good Shepherd Sisters, Malaysia

Health Equity Initiatives (HEI), Malaysia

Housing Rights Task Force, Cambodia

Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB)

Human Security Alliance (HSA)

International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF)

IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh

INFID (International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development )

Institute for National and Democratic Studies (INDIES)

International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, Indonesia

JERIT, Malaysia

Karmojibi Nari , Bangladesh

Kalyanamitra, Indonesia

Kav La'Oved , Israel

Kilusang Mayo Uno Labor Center

Komite Independen Pemantau Pemilu (Independent Committee for Election Monitoring), Indonesia

Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW), Cambodia

LLG Cultural Development Centre, Malaysia

Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)

Malaysian Election Observers Network (MEO-Net)


MAP Foundation, Thailand

Maquila Solidarity Network, Canada

May 1st Coalition for Worker & Immigrant Rights, NY-USA

Migrant CARE, Indonesia

Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA)

Migrant Trade Union, Korea (MTU)

Migrante International

National Alliance of Women Human Rights Defenders, Nepal

Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)

National League For Democracy (Liberated Area )[ NLD(LA)], Malaysia

Pakistan Rural Workers Social Welfare Organization (PRWSWO)

Peduli Buruh Migran, Indonesia

Penang Watch, Malaysia

People's Green Coalition

Pergerakan Indonesia

Perkumpulan PRAXIS, Indonesia

Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti, Selangor (EMPOWER)

Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)

Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor

Pinatud a Saleng ti Umili (PSU)

Pusat KOMAS, Malaysia

QuĂȘ Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam

Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)

Sedane Labour Resource Center/(Lembaga Informasi Perburuhan Sedane), Indonesia

Serikat Buruh Migran Indonesia (SBMI)

Shan Women Action Network (SWAN), Thailand

Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition

Solidaritas Perempuan (Women's Solidarity for Human Rights), Indonesia

SOS(Save Ourselves), Malaysia

Suaram, Malaysia

Tenaganita, Malaysia

Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation (TCR)

The Filipino Women's Organization in Quebec, Canada

The GoodElectronics Network

Think Centre (Singapore)

UNIMIG (Union Migrant Indonesia)

United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)

United Pangasinan in Hong Kong (UPHK)

Urban Community Mission (UCM Jakarta), Indonesia

Vietnam Committee on Human Rights

WARBE Development Foundation, Bangladesh

Women Forum for Women, Nepal

Women Legal BUREAU, Philippines

WOREC, Nepal

Workers Assistance Center, Inc (WAC), Philippines

Workers Hub For Change (WH4C)


Yayasan LINTAS NUSA (Batam Indonesia)

** For further information, please contact Charles Hector [+ 6 019 2371100, and/or ] or Pranom Somwong [+ 6 019 2371300 and

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Recommendations to promote and protect the rights of migrant workers



The 4th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour was held on 24-25 October 2011 in
Bali, Indonesia. Representatives of the governments, employers’ and workers’
organisations, and civil society organisations of ASEAN Member States, the
ASEAN Secretariat, International Labour Organization (ILO), International
Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality
and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), and the Task Force on
ASEAN Migrant Workers (TFAMW) participated in the Forum.

The Forum provided a platform for information sharing and exchange of views
on two enduring challenges identified in the ASEAN Declaration of the
Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, i.e. promoting
understanding, rights and dignity of migrant workers in the receiving countries,
and increasing return and reintegration support, as well as development of
sustainable alternatives for migrant workers in the sending countries. Towards
this end, the Forum also reviewed the implementation of the
Recommendations of the 3rd ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour held on 19-20
July 2010 in Ha Noi, Viet Nam.

The 4th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour was convened as an
implementation of the ASEAN Labour Ministers’ Work Programme 2010-2015
and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint (Action Line
C.2.ii) which called for a regular ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour as a
platform for broad-based discussions on migrant labour issues under the
auspices of the ASEAN Committee on the Implementation of the ASEAN
Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers
(ACMW) which reports to the ASEAN Senior Labour Officials Meeting (SLOM).

The participants agreed to recommend concerted actions to promote and
protect the rights of migrant workers in the sending, transit, and receiving
countries, which shall be gender sensitive, implemented in close cooperation
among tripartite partners and civil society organisations, and applied to all
migrant workers, as follows:

(a) Promotion of positive image, rights and dignity of migrant workers
1. Deliver comprehensive pre-departure education in sending countries,

not only about culture and social norms, but also working and living
conditions, reality of migration including financial implication, laws and
procedures, rights of migrant workers, among others;

2. Conduct post-arrival orientation programmes in receiving countries,
performed by the government, employers, trade unions, civil society,
that adopts a rights based approach in orientating both migrant workers,
employers and government – to understand what their rights and
responsibilities are;

3. Raise awareness and build capacity of public and private recruitment
agencies, local authorities and all stakeholders in sending and
receiving countries in the delivery and monitoring of recruitment and
placement services, and different forms of direct hiring of migrant
workers to ensure greater protection of migrant workers’ rights;

4. Collect and disseminate factual information through the media and
other channels on the contributions of migrant workers to the economy
and society in host countries (e.g. individual stories, economic and
employment data, statistics on social impact) with the long term
objective of promoting a positive image of migrant workers;

5. Carry out joint efforts in ASEAN Member States to present a positive
image of migrant workers with various stakeholders e.g. migrant
workers and their associations, academia, youth and student groups,
tripartite parties, by using various means such as TV, commercials,
exhibitions, radio talk shows, cultural performances, and the
commemoration of International Migrants Day;

(b) Promotion of strategies for effective return and reintegration, as well
as sustainable alternatives for migrant workers

6. Undertake a regional study on the programmes of skills trainings, predeparture

and post-arrival orientations, and return and/or reintegration
support offered by ASEAN Member States;

7. Improve the availability of employment services to the returned migrant

workers, including voluntary psychosocial counselling (before and upon
return), gender sensitive reintegration, access to resources, and legal
aid. Such services should also include information, advice, training,
loans, placement, health, and interpretation/ translation service. These
services should be made available/ extended to the family members of
migrant workers left behind;

8. Provide incentives to the returned migrant workers, e.g. the absence of

penalty for the irregular migrants, tax exemption of import duties for
tools and equipment to be used by migrant workers;

9. Ensure as much as possible that mass/group deportation will not take


10. In case of mass returns of migrant workers in emergencies,

contingency plans should be prepared at company and embassy levels
with the participation of migrant workers. For this purpose,
assistance/contingency funds which cover repatriation costs need to be
set up at national level. Formulation of national disaster preparedness
plans shall be in consultation with and with the participation of migrant
workers and migrant organisations;

11. Ensure that sustainable economic reintegration policies and strategies

are evidence-based, market-demand/need based and gender sensitive;

12. Ensure that return and repatriation programmes are effective,

sustainable, and rights based, and with the involvement of tripartite
partners and civil society organisations;

13. Encourage a speedy development of an ASEAN instrument on the

protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers that includes
the family members of all migrant workers in its coverage. The
instrument shall comply with the international human rights and labour
standards and be legally binding;

14. Set up of ASEAN Guidelines on Effective Return and Reintegration;

15. Develop bilateral and multilateral agreements for portability of the

social security benefits and better implementation of existing schemes;

16. Provide access to legal support and essential services, including

consular services, for migrant workers and members of their families;

17. Recommend the following specific responsibilities and roles with

respect to return and reintegration and sustainable alternatives for
migrant workers:

(a) Responsibilities of sending countries:
• Policies and strategies should be established to look after the return
of migrant workers, e.g. “State Policy on the Reintegration of
Migrant Workers”;
• Provide comprehensive training to migrant workers for preparation
before return as a part of pre-departure orientation; and
• Follow up/monitoring system of the returnees, particularly on their
livelihood and reintegration.

(b) Responsibilities of receiving countries:
• Prior to the return of migrant workers, receiving countries should
have specific programmes for the returnee, e.g. training and
introduction of entrepreneurship to migrant workers who are
interested, counselling, among others;
• Provision of proof of employment by the employers; and
• Ensure that migrant workers receive decent wage and no unlawful
wage deduction, decent and safe working condition and workplace
environment, and compliance with international human rights and
labour standards.

The participants agreed that the progress of implementation of these
recommendations will be reported to the 5th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour
in 2012. For this purpose, the tripartite partners and civil society organisations
from each ASEAN Member State should make preparation of the reporting
prior to the Forum.

The participants extended their appreciation to the Government of Indonesia
for the excellent arrangements of the Forum and warm hospitality accorded to

The participants also congratulated the Government of Cambodia for its role
as the incoming ASEAN Chair for 2012 and host of the 5th ASEAN Forum on
Migrant Labour in 2012.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

End Discrimination Against HK Foreign Domestic Workers, NOW!

On 30 September 2011, the Hong Kong High Court ruled that the restrictions imposed on foreign domestic workers (FDWs) in the current Immigration Ordinance violated the provision in Article 24 of the Hong Kong Basic Law, on the eligibility to apply for permanent residency after having lived in Hong Kong for seven years.

Under the existing Immigration Ordinance, non-Chinese people who have lived in Hong Kong with a legal identification document for seven years can apply to the Director of Immigration for permanent residency in Hong Kong. Having verified that the applicant takes Hong Kong as their permanent residence, the Department of Immigration will then approve the application. However, the provisions in the Immigration Ordinance amended during the Provisional Legislative Council after the handover discriminatively deprived only FDWs of the opportunity to apply for permanent residency.

The High Court ruling on 30 September restores to FDWs equal treatment as other migrant non-Chinese people, to possess the right to apply for residency in Hong Kong. The ruling successfully eliminates the occupational discrimination in the current Immigration Ordinance and brings along a positive message to the society. It shows Hong Kong’s core value of individual human equality, where “all are equal before the law.”

The High Court ruling also has effectively recognized that the Hong Kong government has committed serious discrimination and injustice against FDWs until now. The Hong Kong government and all Hong Kong society should recognize that a large number of FDWs have been facing deep human rights violations and social and legal discrimination due to current government policies not limited to the exclusion from the right of abode, but including for example exclusion from the statutory minimum wage, the live-in requirement, the limitless working hours per day, the ‘two-week rule’ (by which they may only stay two weeks in Hong Kong after the termination of the contract) and other conditions they uniquely face.

As Hong Kong residents, citizens and workers, we want to achieve a 'world city' based on justice and equal rights for all human beings. We stand together with the foreign domestic workers who we live with and benefit from in our society, to ask for the following:

We call on the Hong Kong government to be the leader in advocating social and racial equality among workers and residents, and stop seeking to boost its popularity at the expense of one of the most excluded groups of workers in Hong Kong.

We call on the Hong Kong government to immediately implement the High Court’s decision to remove the restrictions on FDWs in the Immigration Ordinance concerning their eligibility to apply for permanent residency after having lived in Hong Kong for 7 years.
We demand that the Hong Kong government review its current discriminatory and harmful policies on FDWs, and apologize for the past discrimination and neglect it has committed all these years against them.#

Please click to sign on:

For inquiries, please contact:

Ms. Jackie Hung:

Ms. Doris Lee:

Mr. Eman Villanueva:

Mr. Joselito Natividad:


19th October 2011

Dear Friends and Supporters,


Migrant workers, particularly the foreign domestic workers, constantly give care to the people of Hong Kong ­our children, elderly, and families­ six days a week. Isn’t it time to give care back to them, even just for a day? Give Care to Our Care Givers aims precisely that. Our project aims to bring care back to our domestic workers, at least for some days in a year. Through Mobile Caring Centers (MCC) which will be set up in Central and Causeway Bay once every two months in areas where migrants gather, we hope to provide a place for migrants to rest, have recreation, and learn, and find a listening ear for issues they face every day.

The first ever Give Care to our Caregivers Day is set on November 13, 2011, a Sunday, at Chater Garden in Central form 10am-5pm. Recreation and leisure booths will be set up on the day. Among the highlights of the MCCs are:

· Free Computer and Internet use and access

· Reading Room and Mobile Library

· Spaces for Relaxation and Massage

· Free Health Check-ups

· Free Film-showing

· Free Counseling

· Skills and Training sessions (Dance, Tai Chi, Photography, among others)

However, this program cannot succeed without the help and support of volunteers to operate the booths, deliver the service and provide the visible care to our caregivers. If you believe that this is a worthwhile activity, we would like you to give some time to join us and give care to our caregivers.

Are you a doctor, lawyer, nurse, Chinese medicine practitioner, a dentist or a practitioner of the arts? Do you have skills to share or teach? Maybe you can donate an hour or so to provide free services to our dear migrant workers.

Whatever your profession, we will appreciate any effort to volunteer and assist us in distributing promotional materials and help manage the booths, or just even smile and show our appreciation to our caregivers.

Please join us in giving care to the care givers and promoting their health and well-being.

Give Care to Our Care Givers is a project funded by Love Ideas HK, a public philanthropic campaign initiated by the Li Ka Shing Foundation to engage Hong Kong citizens in a united effort to improve our community.

For more information, please call 25228261 or send your email to