Thursday, May 1, 2008

Commemorating Labour Day in Malaysia

May 1 is a national holiday in Malaysia. Malaysia started observing the holiday in 1972 following an announcement by the late Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Dr Ismail. In his historic speech, he hoped that the decision to observe May 1 as a national holiday would encourage the Malaysian labor movements to feel the need to be bound to the purpose of the national aspiration.

But in Malaysia there are various history models that can be learnt in terms of the sacrifices made by the workers toward helping the country progress economically and technologically. May 1 should be the day to commemorate the contributions of Malaysian ordinary workers to the country. Without those contributions, the local and foreign companies that once invested or have been investing in Malaysia would not make huge profits.

Unlike in Malaysia where the statutory 48 hours maximum working week is being practiced, working time in most Western European countries is declining steadily. Even though many perceive that less is produced, the result of reducing maximum working week is actually the opposite. Reducing maximum working week has in fact contributes toward enhancing productivity. France adopted the 35-hour working week in February 2000. The main advantage of reducing maximum working week is to enhance the quality of life among workers.

But the period of time that workers spend daily in some Monday-to-Friday companies in Malaysia is actually at least 10 hours per day. A worker clocks in at 8:00 am and the day ends at 6:00 pm. A 1-hour break is given to each worker. That means a worker actually works at least 45 hours per week. Even though the company claims to practice 48 hours maximum working week, but it is still incomparable to that practiced in most Western European countries. In another company, a worker clocks in at 8:30 am and the day ends at 6:00 pm. But he or she has to work another 8 hours on two Saturdays each month. A 1-hour break is given to each worker. That means a worker has to work for at least 46.5 hours per week in certain weeks.

Another area to consider is the 1-hour break is given to each worker. Both companies do not compensate their workers for rest breaks and meal periods. This is common among companies in Malaysia. To compare with, the overtime laws for non-exempt employees in the United States prohibit employers to ask the workers to simply work off the clock. That means both companies shall compensate the workers by reducing another 1 hours from a worker's working day without reducing the basic salary or simply pay them for the extra effort they have given. Taking into account the 1-hour break means that the company is asking its workers to work 50 hours per week. The maximum working week in Malysia is only 48 hours. But the company has not been paying the workers for the extra two hours. At the second company, the working hours in certain weeks shall be 51.5 hours if the 1-hour break is included. Whether the practice complies to the Malaysian laws or not, we leave the question to the employers and the legal community.

Does the current labor practice make Malaysia a more developed country? What we can actually see is that Malaysia is still lagging behind in many areas. Moreover, can we expect the workers to become highly motivated with the steadily increasing prices of goods?

3 comments:

Malaysia Reviews said...

thank you for sharing

Public opinion said...

Thank you for the visit

Unknown said...

Hi, Nice to read over this article. I am now helping one of my friend in Taiwan gathering some information on the labour movement in Malaysia. Do you have any relevant information or research on Labour movement? Thanks!