Children of illegal Filipino migrants swim in coastal waters at a settlement on Gaya Island in the Malaysian state of Sabah in this file image. (Photo: AFP)
A newly amended regulation in Malaysia has just taken effect with the aim of improving the protection of workers’ rights in the Muslim-majority country where such rights are often violated.
The country’s Industrial Relations Act 1967 was amended last month to include several changes, one of which now allows employees to have any person of their choice other than a lawyer represent them during labor disputes with their employers.
In addition, local trade unions can now hold negotiations “about general issues related to the exchange, recruitment [and] termination of services due to labor surplus, dismissal and reinstatement as well as distribution of tasks,” Human Resources Minister Seri M. Saravanan said.
Although the terms are somewhat vague, the new legislation empowers workers in a country where labor rights abuses are common, especially in sectors such as agriculture, fishing and construction.