The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) lauds the health minister for pledging to find a comprehensive solution to the issues of contract health care workers.
Although these workers are employed on contract under the Ministry of Health (MOH), we hope that the Ministry of Human Resource will use its authority to correct the policies that have led to these issues, many of which are human resource issues affecting the welfare of these workers.
It is shocking to learn that a hospital cleaner, who is also a single mother, has been earning a monthly salary of only RM1,200 for 15 years. Many of her colleagues have been similarly struggling to make ends meet with the low wages for many years.
According to the media report on the issue, some workers were made to work at four locations in a single day, while the annual leave given to the workers did not commensurate with their years of service.
The Ministry of Human Resource should step in and act to ensure the welfare of these contract workers are taken care of, and that they are protected against any form of exploitation.
It should also ensure that the contract system is not being abused. The hiring policies, whether for permanent or contract positions through a company, must be fair and transparent.
Earning a monthly salary of RM1,200 for 15 years is totally unacceptable. How can a person be motivated to progress or grow in any organisation if there is no increase in their wages for that long? The human resource minister must step in and act to address this.
From what has been described, cleaners are being treated unfairly. It is time we show more respect for the people that keep our health care facilities clean.
Cleaners are also frontliners and play a key role in the prevention and control of infectious diseases. Health care facilities can be hotbeds of infections due to their high exposure to the sick on a daily basis.
Therefore, frequent cleaning and disinfecting of the premises is required. Any contamination can affect outcomes in the delivery of care.
Cleaners are part of the health care ecosystem and should be recognised for their important role. The duties of cleaners are labour intensive. They should not be made to take on two or three jobs to make ends meet.
Dr Koh Kar Chai is president of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.