Employers want to limit working hours
Sarawak Tribune - Thursday, 27 March 2003
 

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PUTRAJAYA - Local employers want the Employment Act amended to allow them to limit the working hours to minimise the effects of the Iraqi crisis on their businesses, Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn said yesterday.

He said the employers wanted the authority to impose unpaid leave on employees or even a temporary shutdown of business operations.

"They also want the government to reduce various forms of levies imposed on them," he told reporters after the ministry's post-Cabinet meeting here.

Viewing the proposals as "better than retrenchment", Dr Fong said that the ministry would look into them by taking into consideration the trade unions' opinions.

He said the ministry was consulting the Malaysian Employers Federation and the Malaysian Trades Union Congress on the suggestions.

"Employers are worried that these proposals cannot be implemented unless the Employment Act is amended. They would also be inviting Industrial Court cases if they go ahead and do it without the Act being amended," he added.

He said the impact of the US-led invasion of Iraq, although yet visible in the Malaysian human resources sector, would be a problem in a month or so.

"So far, none of the companies has reported a reduction in export orders. This may take a month or so but effects of the war on employment will take about three to four months," he said.

He said this scenario would become a reality only if the war dragged on longer than expected and the most likely to be hit hard were the electronics and textile industries. He said the ministry was in constant contact with the employees and the trade unions to keep tabs on what was going on.

On another matter, Dr Fong said the number of abuse and violence cases against foreign maids in the country had declined.

Last year, only 32 cases were reported among the 200,000 foreign maids in the country, 95 per cent of whom were Indonesians, compared with 40 cases in 2001 and 50 in 2000.

"Although there is a decline in the number of abuse cases, we will continue monitoring the situation. We do not condone such acts and reported the number of abuse and violence cases against foreign maids in the country had declined.

Last year, only 32 cases were reported among the 200,000 foreign maids in the country, 95 per cent of whom were Indonesians, compared with 40 cases in 2001 and 50 in 2000.

"Although there is a decline in the number of abuse cases, we will continue monitoring the situation. We do not condone such acts and reported employers of maids will be charged in court accordingly," he said.

Dr Fong also said that he would be making a week-long working visit to New Zealand starting tomorrow to look at industrial training centres there.

"I will be discussing with the New Zealand Minister of Labour how New Zealand can help in training and retraining lecturers employed at the local industrial training institutes, " he said - Bernama