In March 2015, the Crossroads outreach team, which includes our partners KOMAS and Tenaganita, held a community film screening at the Sungei Lalang Sawmill in Semenyih, Selangor, Malaysia.
Five films from the collection were screened to 35 migrant workers from Flores, Indonesia, who were engaged in a lively discussion afterwards.
There were questions from the workers on whether employers could be requested to compensate workers if they go to a private hospital in order to get speedy treatment for more serious injuries. Sometimes, employers tend to delay or not give notice on health treatment to the authorities at all, making compensation impossible to process. The workers revealed that they usually try to look for medical treatment and recovery on their own expenses.
According to Fajar from Tenaganita, employers are liable to pay the expenses of medical treatment sustained at work but it is important that workers keep all documentation such as hospital bills and have proof of their employment.
He elaborated that in some cases, third-party involvement could be of help to solve cases, such as Tenaganita itself, and the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC), both of which work to protect the rights of migrant workers. These organisations could put pressure to start investigations on cases, something most employers would rather avoid.
However, it was noted that most workers at the screening had no idea of what the MTUC is and that they could register as members. Fajar recommended that they do so to protect themselves.
The workers also expressed some dissatisfaction with the Indonesian embassy, which they felt is not pro-active enough or appearing to be concerned in helping and supporting their citizens working in Malaysia.
The session ended with the workers penning down their messages and wishes to the Malaysian government on a blackboard. Photographs of their messages will be part of a Crossroads awareness campaign that is set to be launched in April 2015.