Khairy: MOH Responsible For Workers Contracted By Concessionaires

Khairy Jamaluddin says while contract public hospital cleaners are employed by concessionaires, the companies received concessions from the Health Ministry.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 – Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin yesterday acknowledged that the Ministry of Health (MOH) is responsible for workers contracted by concessionaires to serve MOH facilities.

The MOH has never previously acknowledged responsibility for these contract hospital support workers, maintaining that they are under the responsibility of the concessionaires that employ them. Concessions are under the MOH secretary-general’s portfolio.

Following his meeting with contract public hospital cleaners in Putrajaya on Tuesday, Khairy assured workers that the government will thoroughly vet their demands, as hospital support staff have played a critical role amid a pandemic defined by the need for cleanliness.

“I have informed Roziah, as health minister, that even though they are workers under concession companies, those companies receive concessions from the MOH. Therefore, their welfare is also our responsibility at the ministry,” Khairy told reporters at MOH’s headquarters in Putrajaya, flanked by the contract hospital cleaners.

He was referring to Roziah Mohd Hashim, president of the National Union of Workers in Hospital Support and Allied Services (NUWHSAS) that held a six-motorcycle convoy of mainly female workers from Penang to Putrajaya.

Roziah said the group’s demands include abolishing the contract worker system, providing Covid-19 allowances to all government hospital staff, and halting intimidation of members involved in worker unions.

The group’s motorcycle convoy of a 500km journey from Penang to Putrajaya spanned over four days that ended yesterday. Motorcycles were used as the two-wheeled vehicle is the main mode of transport for 80 per cent of contract public hospital cleaners.

“Given our low salary of only RM1,200 a month and the contract system that is renewed every one to two years, it makes it very difficult for us to get a loan from a bank to buy other vehicles such as cars or houses.

“Riding a motorcycle is also symbolic of the contract system and how badly the B40 (bottom 40 per cent income) workers are exploited and exposes our situation as ‘modern slaves’ as well as ‘debt slaves’,” Roziah said, according to Utusan Malaysia.

Khairy, in a press conference held after his meeting with NUWHSAS, said the contract hospital cleaners’ demands will be looked into comprehensively. 

“I will have meetings with the concession companies to have a deeper understanding on the issues that were raised. There were four to five main issues raised earlier. 

“I give my commitment to Roziah and her companions to their welfare as frontliners, who have helped a lot in managing the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We should not look lightly at their plight. I have personally attended to them after they endured an over 500km journey to meet me. I don’t want to disappoint them and their struggle. I have personally welcomed them here at the MOH,” Khairy said.

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