Malasia - Migrant workers struggle for rights (2012)

Malaysia has a total of 1.9 million registered migrant workers, constituting approximately 21% of the workforce, making Malaysia the largest importer of labour in Asia. It is estimated there are another 2 million undocumented migrant workers. On 1 August, Malaysia implemented an amnesty programme for its undocumented migrant workers. Under the provisions of the amnesty, those without documents were to be fingerprinted for a biometrics database and allowed to stay in Malaysia if they had a job. If they were not employed, they would be allowed to leave Malaysia by 31 October without penalty. On 30 May, Malaysia and Indonesia signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on migrant labour that ended a June 2009 moratorium by Indonesia on sending workers to Malaysia. Under the terms MoU, Indonesian migrant workers will have the right to retain their passports, to one day off each week, paid annual leave, and access to communications. The MoU also provided that the minimum wage for migrant workers will not be lower than in Indonesia and that overtime will be paid. On 5 May, Malaysian police arrested two Burmese migrant workers after they complained of crowded living conditions at an appliance factory. On 13 July, the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) urged the authorities to investigate a newspaper agent who allegedly abused ten migrant workers from India and failed to pay them wages. Five out of ten men were allegedly wrongfully detained and charged in court for working illegally in the country. The MTUC instituted legal proceedings against the employer.

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