Monday, May 16, 2022

Salaries in but with some cuts for Sabak Bernam contract cleaners

Their biggest question is over an 11% deduction made to their overdue wages.

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A week ago, 53 contract cleaners from Sabak Bernam held a peaceful protest in front of the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya, demanding their salaries which they said had been withheld for four months.

They left with a written statement by the education ministry promising that they would be paid by April 1.

Today, NGO Jaringan Pekerja Kontrak Kerajaan (JPKK) which champions workers’ rights says all 53 cleaners have received their overdue salaries.

But for some of them, the story doesn’t end there.

Cleaner Kak Zahirah acknowledged that she had been paid but said her contractor had also taken a hefty cut from her salary.

“They cut 11% off my salary – RM166 – and subtracted seven days that I used for leave,” she told MalaysiaNow. “That was another RM259.”

That leaves her with just RM548 of her pay.

JPKK said it had received similar complaints from other cleaners as well.

The deduction for leave is a frustrating but familiar experience for the contract cleaners, who are not entitled to annual or medical leave.

Deductions are also made for not coming to work, even though most of the time this is due to Covid-19 quarantine measures.

For these cleaners, the bigger question mark is over the 11% penalty.

Kak Yati, another worker, said she had been left with RM466 after the deductions and penalties – not enough to feed her family.

MalaysiaNow’s attempts to contact the contractors for a response have not succeeded so far, although a spokesman in charge of all of the companies said the workers had been paid.

“Their salaries have all been released,” he said in a brief reply to MalaysiaNow.

While the salaries have been paid, though, the cleaners have yet to receive their Employees Provident Fund or Sosco coverage.

JPKK has said that it will file complaints at the labour department but the main goal remains to have these contractors terminated and blacklisted from hiring any new cleaners.

MalaysiaNow’s efforts to contact the labour department and human resources ministry about the cleaners’ protest have also been unsuccessful.

The education ministry however had said that it would investigate the companies and terminate their contracts if the cleaners’ complaints were found to be true.

Without government action, cleaners like Yati and Zahirah will likely continue working with irregular salaries.

At the moment, their hopes are pinned on the government. Their fingers are also crossed that they will be paid monthly and given the full amount.

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