Parents of four among school cleaners fired after ‘new contracts’ enforced
9:33 pm (Updated 9:41 pm)
When father of four M Ganeson Pillai recently lost his job in Rawang, it came as a double blow because his wife D Rajasweri also found herself facing the same fate.
Both were told on May 30 to not come back to their jobs as cleaners at SK Tasik Puteri 2 from June 1 onwards, because their contracts had allegedly been terminated.
Already in shock, Ganeson was further puzzled when the news was delivered to them verbally by the schoolâs principal, and not by their employer.
“Even the principal was not sure what was going on.
“My employer did not say anything. The principal said the new contractors only needed four cleaners but there were 12 of us there at the time.
“So the rest of us lost our jobs,” he told Malaysiakini when met while filing a complaint with the Selangor Industrial Relations Department (IRD) in Shah Alam this afternoon.
This has left them with no source of income to support their four children, three of whom are still in school. Their eldest child has just graduated with a diploma and is looking for a job.
Today, they filed their petitions under Section 20 of the Industrial Relations Act, claiming to have been unfairly dismissed from their workplace.
“We just want our jobs back,” Ganeson said.
Fired before Hari Raya
The couple was among the 30 former school cleaners at government schools across Selangor who filed similar complaints with the IRD.
For 44-year-old Siti (right in photo), who declined to provide her full name, she lodged a complaint because she was upset for being let go unceremoniously one week before Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
She had been a school cleaner for almost five years at SK Kebun Baharu in Kuala Langat. Nine of the original 13 cleaners were let go.
Like Ganeson and Rajasweri, Siti was also informed that she had been dismissed by the school principal.
“I want to ask why our rice bowl was taken away from us at such a time (just before the festivities). There was no notice and we were fired all of a sudden on May 30.
“I was so sad and angry, I did not know how to feel.
“The school principal told us that this was an order from the state education department possibly following instructions from the Education Ministry,” she said when approached by Malaysiakini.
Aside from the two schools above, six other institutions were mentioned in the former workers’ complaints.
They are SMK Seksyen 4 Kota Damansara; SMK Engku Husain (Semenyih); SJK(T) Telok Datok (Banting); SJK(C) Batu 11 Cheras, SJK(C) Batu 9 Cheras; and SJK(C) Chung Hua (Banting).
IRD Selangor director Anita Ahmad told Malaysiakini that the department had registered all 30 cases and will next arrange for conciliation meetings between workers and their employers.
The aim is for the meetings to commence as soon as possible, latest by the beginning of July.
PSM assisting workers
The workers were led today by PSM Workers Bureau chief M Sivaranjani (far left in photo), who said that the party was ready to assist former school cleaners across Malaysia in filing their cases with the department.
“Now we have been told that the workers don’t have to come by themselves. We can be their representatives to collect the forms and submit them for filing.
“We are going to help the workers, (especially) those who are staying very far away.
“We are going to go to all the states, starting here in Selangor,” she said when met afterwards.
PSM previously criticised the Education Ministry’s method of awarding contracts for permanent tasks such as cleaning, as the contracts could be terminated without any safeguards for workers.
Sivaranjani hoped to challenge that system using these cases.
“The underlying issue here is the contract system for permanent jobs, this is what we want to challenge,” she said.
In response to similar cases in the past, the Education Ministry explained that school contract workers had been let go after their contracts expired, and that tenders were reissued based on latest needs.