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Gov't urged to adopt Convention 189, provide domestic workers with fundamental workers' rights

New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur, 16 June 2017: The government has been urged to adopt Domestic Workers’ Convention 2011 (189) to pave way for Malaysia to recognise domestic workers as workers, which will provide them with fundamental workers' rights.

Malaysian Bar president, George Varughese, also stressed that it is important for the government to commence consultations on the draft regulations of domestic workers, with stakeholders including the Bar Council and civil society groups.

George said this is to ensure that the regulations recognising domestic work as work will accord all rights and protections under the Employment Act 1955 to domestic workers.

"Domestic workers are recognised under Malaysia's Employment Act 1955 as 'domestic servant' and are explicitly denied the basic rights that are afforded to other workers, namely termination of contracts, maternity benefits, rest days, hours of work and holidays as well as benefit related to termination, layoff and retirement.

"Despite intense lobbying by the Bar Council and civil society organisations, Malaysia abstained from voting to adopt the convention concerning decent work for domestic workers C189, at the 100th Session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva in 2011," he said.

He added that the Malaysian Bar welcomes the efforts by the Human Resources ministry to address issues related to domestic workers including drafting the Regulations (Terms and Conditions of Employment) of Domestic Servants 2014.

"However, the regulations do not address many of the fundamental issues behind labour rights violations against domestic workers.

"The regulations also continued to refer to domestic workers as 'domestic servants' which perpetuates negative and demeaning perceptions of domestic workers," he said adding that the regulations are unfortunately put on hold.

He also said that as at March 31, the total number of migrant workers in Malaysia is 1.83 million, including 132,580 domestic workers.

George was speaking at the "Consultation on Domestic Workers in Malaysia" meeting at the Bar Council Malaysia here today.

The meeting was co-organised by the Bar Council Migrants, Refugees and Immigration Affairs Committee (MRIAC), National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) and Migrant Forum in Asia and supported by United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).


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