Absorb contract workers into civil service, Opposition MPs urge

KUALA LUMPUR: Contract workers in schools, hospitals and other government entities should be absorbed into the civil service to better protect their rights as employees, say Opposition MPs.

Tanjung Malim MP Chang Lih Kang said most contract workers had problems including their employers' refusal to contribute to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) while some even paid salaries lower than the minimum wage.

He said the government had paid contractors RM1.5bil in 2019 but only RM1bil trickled down to the contract workers.

Chang added that if the government absorbed them, they could save RM500mil which could be used for administration and management purposes.

“By absorbing contract workers into the civil service, it could also ensure that their rights as workers are protected, where contributions to the EPF or Employee Insurance Scheme (EIS) are ensured, ” he said at a joint press conference in Parliament on Tuesday (Dec 15) with Klang MP Charles Santiago, Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil, Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah and Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim.

Prior to the press conference, a group of about 10 activists from the Government Contract Workers Alliance (JPKK) gathered at the road leading to the Parliament complex to hand over a memorandum on the matter to the government.

Santiago said informal workers, who made up 40% of the workforce, were the most vulnerable group in the country.

“They have no EPF (saving) or any sort of social security such as Socso and if they met with an accident, they have to bear the costs themselves.

"What we have to do is to support them to be absorbed into the government system so they can at least enjoy the minimum wage and other government support, ” he said.

Fahmi meanwhile said contract cleaner workers should also be acknowledged as frontliners in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I have requested the Finance Minister and the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Special Functions) to classify cleaners as frontliners. But there is still no response until now," he said.

Fahmi added that he had spent some time with these contract workers and found that the matter should be raised to the Public Accounts Committee, as it involved billions of ringgit in government expenditure.

“We want to ensure the welfare of these workers are protected and public funds are spent ethically and efficiently," he said.

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