Saravanan: 49 workers' quarters found unfit for human habitation, nearly 3,000 occupants relocated

KUALA LUMPUR: Close to 3,000 employees were moved to temporary lodgings after the government found 49 workers’ quarters unsuitable for human habitation, says Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan (pic).

He said that through enforcement of the Emergency Ordinance, 49 instructions were issued to employers and centralised accommodation providers running dirty lodgings to transfer the occupants to temporary accommodation while the original quarters were renovated.

“This involved 2,942 workers,” Saravanan told Parliament on Thursday (Sept 23) in response to a question by Datuk Seri Muhkriz Mahathir (Pejuang-Jerlun).

Mukhriz had asked for enforcement of the Workers' Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446) to be enhanced so that the industry would comply with minimum operating standards set by the authorities.

Saravanan said that as of Aug 25, a total of 129,668 lodgings involving 23,993 employers, occupied by 804,204 foreign workers and nearly 1.2 million local workers, were inspected by the authorities.

He said Act 446 enforced on June 1 had been extended to all industrial sectors including in Sabah and Sarawak during the Emergency period, in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19 and the formation of clusters at workers’ accommodations.

“With the enactment of Act 446, all sectors of employment providing accommodation to employees must comply with the minimum accommodation standards prescribed under the Act and Regulations.

“Employers who employ foreign workers are required to provide accommodation and comply with the provisions of the Act,” he said.

As a result of inspections and enforcement from June 1 to date, a total of 12,195 applications for a Certificate of Accommodation under Act 446 were made by employers and centralised accommodation providers, involving nearly a million workers, he added.

Saravanan also said that after the inspections, a total of 940 investigation papers were opened and 618 penalties levied for various offences.

The minister also told the Dewan Rakyat that a total of 155,893 workers lost their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He added that the retrenchments were done according to the law and none of the 5,959 employers was taken to court for violating the Employment Act 1955.

Saravanan also revealed that the government's Wage Subsidy Programme (WSP) had helped employers retain employees, reducing job losses in the country by 107,024 last year.

"For this year, as of Aug 20, 43,924 people lost their jobs.

"If there were no WSP, the number of workers losing their jobs would probably be much higher," he added.

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