High time to enforce amended housing law

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) Sarawak chairman Mohammad Ibrahim Hamid

KUCHING: It is high time for amendments to the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446) to be enforced nationwide, said Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) Sarawak chairman Mohammad Ibrahim Hamid.

He said the conditions for boarding school dormitories should also be looked into.

“Comfortable housing along with basic safety and a hygienic place of stay will also contribute towards minimising the spread of Covid-19,” he said when contacted on Thursday (Nov 26).

He was commenting on earlier news that the Human Resources Ministry would begin enforcing amendments to the Act on Thursday following the increasing number of Covid-19 cases associated with factory workers living in dormitories.

In stating this, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the Act aimed to provide workers with more comfortable housing, adding that companies which did not comply could be issued harsh fines.

Meanwhile, Sarawak MTUC secretary Andrew Lo said that the Act was not applicable in Sarawak and emphasised that Sarawak should impose a similar ruling to enforce better standards for workers’ housing here.

“We are way behind in workers’ protection in Sarawak,” he said, adding that such a ruling should also cover domestic maids.

He said unions had been complaining about poor living conditions throughout the country.

“We are worried that enforcement may be selective, not comprehensive, and fizzle out.”

At the same time, Lo noted that the Act did not compel employers to provide housing but instead just set standards if the employer chose to provide housing.