5 Hospital Cleaners Arrested for Peacefully Protesting Against Employer Who Allegedly Denied Them Proper Safety Gear

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source: Malay Mail

According to Malay Mail, 5 hospital cleaners, who are also union members, were arrested outside of Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun during a peaceful protest against their union-busting employer Edgenta UEMS, the company that allegedly blocked seven of their employees from being tested of Covid-19 despite their high risk. They then reasoned their block by saying there would be “no replacements” for the workers if they were to go on leave for the screening.

The picket was initiated to raise awareness towards the poor treatment of hospital cleaners, especially their lack of protective gear against Covid-19 infection. Party secretary general, A. Sivarajan, said in a press statement that, “These frontliner workers, who are cleaners in the government hospitals, are already victimised by their employer and now their rights are further trampled upon.”

source: Malay Mail

Despite adhering to the SOP set during MCO, such as social distancing, the union members were still charged under Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988. Not only that, they were also accused of behaving in a way that obstructed the public servant from carrying out their duties, thus charged with Section 186 and 269 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

Those picketing are members of National Union of Workers in Hospital Support and Allied Services’ (NUWHSAS) and Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) which have been subject to harassment and poor treatment after they made police reports against Edgenta UEMS for their negligence.

source: Malay Mail

Amongst the ways they claim to have been mistreated are:

  1. Being transferred to hospitals far away from home
  2. Working longer hours without overtime pay
  3. Changing of schedules without their permission
  4. Verbal harassment by Edgenta UEMS committee
  5. Denied of government special allowance of RM600
  6. Paid one-off token of RM300
  7. No annual paid holiday/sick leaves
  8. No transport services
  9. Prohibiting discussions amongst workers and union (even during break-time)
  10. Threatening to inflict disciplinary action and taking photos of said discussions without their permission
  11. Denied of proper garments or safety gear while working which leads to greater risk of infection
  12. No increase in salary despite worker seniority
source: Malaysiakini

Despite being front-liners, the hospital workers are suffering terrible conditions during the pandemic. Pictures of them after being arrested began circling the internet and they were even shown in handcuffs despite not breaking any laws.

There’s even a video of them leaving court after police requested a 4 day remand.

Now, after the protests, Edgenta UEMS has decided to settle the issue internally. They released a statement saying their safety protocols are currently aligned with the standards of the Ministry of Health in Malaysia. The statement added, “The company is also committed to resolve internal matters impacting its employees in an amicable manner, by also engaging the relevant authorities such as the Labour Department whenever required.”

JUICE hopes their rights as workers are upheld. A front-liner is a front-liner regardless of which department they serve.

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