PUTRAJAYA: Self-employed workers will soon get better protection from any risk at the workplace following the government’s move to enhance the Self-Employment Social Security Act and several related labour laws.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the protection would be extended to fishermen, farmers, smallholders, business operators and those in the arts industry where they stand to receive the same benefits as those in the formal sector.
“Several initiatives are being carried out including to strengthen and enforce the Self-Employment Social Security Scheme and the Employment Injury Scheme for taxi drivers or self-employed workers including those providing e-hailing services under the Self Employment Social Security Act,” said the Prime Minister in his address on Labour Day at Putrajaya International Convention Centre.
He said the government also pledged to improve labour laws and workforce processes in a bid to create the best mechanism to resolve issues between employers and employees in a harmonious way.
Dr Mahathir said among the labour laws up for review are regulations that touch on minimum working standards, unions, social security and health benefits to protect the welfare of employees without denying the contributions of the employers to the development of the country.
The Prime Minister said the move was also to ensure that employees know their rights at the workplace.
“Among them are the Trade Union Act, Occupational Safety and Health Act, Industrial Relations Act and Employment Act,” said Dr Mahathir.
He added that the government was also aiming to increase the number of union members to a million by the year 2020.
On foreign workers, Dr Mahathir said the government was aware of concerns about the influx of foreign workers into the country.
He said that the government took action to restrict foreign workers to only sectors unappealing to local workers, which are mainly the 3D (dirty, dangerous and difficult) jobs.
He believed one of the reasons for the influx of foreign workers was the reluctance of locals to take on 3D jobs.
“But I must state that the presence of foreign workers in Malaysia is due to our own attitude – refusing certain jobs even though we are capable of doing it.
“The opportunity is then grabbed by foreign workers. In the end, they become rich and we remain the same or become poor,” said Dr Mahathir.
Later at a press conference, he reminded the nation’s workforce that the 3D jobs may not pay well but were still honest work and vital to the nation’s development.
“The salary is low but if they don’t work, there’s no salary at all. They have to choose. If they work, they will still get a salary,” said Dr Mahathir.
“If they don’t work, other people (foreign workers) will work. Our money flows out of the country. We become poor and the unemployed have no income.”