The federal government says it has no choice but to approve highway toll hikes because the concession agreements stipulate that compensation would have to be paid to the concessionaires if the hikes are not approved. (We won’t discuss here how they drew up such lopsided agreements in the first place.)
So is it fair to retrench foreign workers who have valid employment agreements without paying them adequate compensation?
LABOUR-MALAYSIA: Hit Foreign Workers First Govt Tells Employers
By Anil Netto
PENANG, Mar 23 (IPS) – An official guideline for employers to retrench their foreign workers ahead of local employees has alarmed civil society society groups who fear that indebted migrant workers could be sent home with inadequate compensation.
Worries about retrenchment and unemployment have been mounting as Malaysia sinks into a recession, its export-oriented economy taking a hit from a slump in global consumer demand.
In the last quarter of 2008, the economy grew by just 0.1 per cent and many fear the economy will shrink this year despite a huge 60 billion ringgit (16 billion US dollars) government stimulus package.
In January, exports dropped by 28 percent and the number of workers employed by the manufacturing sector fell by nine per cent against the previous year.
Thousands have been retrenched in the last few months. Labour Department statistics for the month of January alone show 4,325 workers retrenched of which 2,153 were local and 2,172 foreign. These of course are only reported figures.
The steady rate of retrenchments has worried the government, which has announced a principle of foreign workers first out (FWFO), meaning that employers should lay off foreign workers before they retrench locals.
Even the country’s trade union movement is worried about the influx of migrant workers at a time when retrenchments are rising. Full article here.