THE media spotlight on the gotong royong activity at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex has been on people in high places doing lowly jobs, and misses the plight of the janitors who were not paid by their contractor for weeks past payday.
This is not an isolated case of contract employees in government premises going without pay for days or weeks. Neither is it the only injustice suffered by contract workers in the B40 income band, such as cleaners, security guards and gardeners. The entire contract system adopted by the Government for jobs such as the above is unjust, exploitative and in violation of the rights of workers.
In the first place, the contract jobs in the government sector do not meet the criterion for contract work, in that the jobs are not temporary in nature. Work such as cleaning, gardening and providing security at schools, hospitals and other government departments is permanent in nature and needs to be done for as long as the relevant premises are operational.
It matters a lot when permanent jobs are packaged as contract work and offered to women and men at the bottom of the employment ladder. This is because under the contract system wages remain stagnant, and there is no job security. There is no yearly wage increment, and every three years (if that is the contract term) the worker becomes jobless, and if reemployed, starts again as a fresh employee, deprived of all the benefits of length of service such as higher EPF and Socso contributions, more days of annual and medical leave, etc.
The Government is the paymaster for hundreds of thousands of contract jobs in its many departments and premises. These fake fixed term contract jobs were created by the previous government, and while it benefited its cronies and adherents, did nothing to lift workers from the B40 out of poverty.
The Pakatan Harapan Government should set an example by ending the contract system for permanent jobs, and directly employ the workers in its premises.
Central committee member
Parti Sosialis Malaysia
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