It has been a sad week for me after hearing about the tragic death of Mr Kathir. A dedicated employee has ended his life seemingly because of unfair discriminatory practices at his workplace. In this video which he made sometime around September just after his suspension he clearly explains the workplace incidents that were deeply affecting him.
PSM supports the many calls for justice for Mr Kathir and his family through a thorough probe , followed up with firm action. There is much evidence which Mr Kathiresan left behind before he took his life for the relevant authorities to look into.
The PSM also urges the government to take measures to address the stresses faced by workers and pay attention to their mental health so as to prevent more tragedies.
Stressful work situations are common, and the reality is that many workers suffer pressures linked to their employment everyday. They try to somehow manage it in different ways, and most cope without breaking badly like Mr Kathir.
A large section of our workforce suffer from mental stress due to reasons not confined to discriminatory policies at the workplace. There are many factors that contribute to the stress, and they stem from the fact that workers have lost much of their rights and protection over the years, such as:
- long working hours, often a 12 hour workday which cuts off workers from their families and friends, and deprives them of rest and exercise. For migrant workers the hours can be longer.
- no job security, resulting in docility as workers fear losing their jobs if they question their employers. Nowadays, workers are dismissed without even a letter of termination, and the labour departments, instead of asking employers to be accountable, expect workers to produce proof of termination.
- the blatant abuse of the contract system for jobs that are permanent in nature. This results in further erosion of the rights of workers.
- not least the absence of a living wage for a large section of the workforce resulting in tremendous pressure on workers to meet escalating living costs. During this pandemic period, there is added stress due to loss of jobs and a regular income.
- only about 6% of the workforce is currently unionised. The government must remove the many obstacles that stand in the way of forming unions, and the act firmly against instances of victimisation and harassment of union leaders. By representing workers in disputes and advising them in problematic situations, they can play an important role by providing valuable support to workers in difficult times.
The government needs to act now!
Parti Sosialis Malaysia