PETALING JAYA: The Government should look into the plight of women estate workers and take steps to improve their economic status, says human rights NGO Tenaganita.
In its Labour Day message, Tenaganita said women plantation workers in Malaysia need help as they are still mired in poverty.
“Most of these workers are involved in ‘nurturing’ jobs, such as taking care of oil palm nurseries, weeding, applying fertiliser, spraying pesticides, and general maintenance work.
“With a daily wage of less than RM40, many of them are not able to earn the minimum wage of RM1,000,” said Tenaganita Women’s Force executive director Glorene A. Das.
She said these women were also exposed to highly toxic chemicals while doing their job.
“Plantation companies claim that the workers are provided with personal protective equipment which should protect them from the worst effects of poisoning.
“The reality, however, is that the equipment provided is often unsuitable for the hot and humid Malaysian climate. The end result is that many women suffer the worst consequences of exposure,” said Glorene.
Sharing the heart-rending story of a worker, Kamachy (not her real name), Glorene highlighted examples of hardships faced by such women estate workers.
After she had worked for over 15 years as a pesticide sprayer, Kamachy now suffers skin problems and also financial hardship.