Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dirty, unglamorous work, but Malaysians are doing it

Amid the furore and flip-flop over the 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers supposedly to be brought in to work dirty, dangerous and difficult jobs that Malaysians are not interested in, there are locals who find such jobs not to be a problem. Ibrahim Sheikh Mydin and S. Joshua both work for the Penang Island City Council (MBPP), and their daily job involves sweeping trash from the streets and cleaning up council premises. Ibrahim, 35, said he waited years to get the job with the council, applying for the first time since he was 17. He got the job only in June last year. "I want to work for the government because the job is stable. I can provide for my family and still get pension after I retire. I used to drive a lorry. "I think it is okay working as a sweeper. Penangites have a higher awareness of public cleanliness now. Hopefully there will also be opportunities at the council for me to advance myself," he told The Malaysian Insider. Joshua, 21, who also started in June last year, said he wanted a stable job and he did not mind sweeping the roads, although at first he was embarrassed. "For the first two weeks, I felt ashamed, especially when girls walked past me while I swept up the garbage. Now I am used to it," he said when met at Lorong Kulit in George Town, where he was cleaning after the flea market, which closes in the afternoon. Both men made just over RM1,000 a month, inclusive of allowance, but were optimistic their monthly earnings would improve. Both had heard from their seniors that they could get much more from working overtime. "I have heard of some earning about RM4,000 a month after they put in the extra hours. I think we just need to work hard if we want to earn more," Joshua said. MBPP currently has 934 staff working in the field, handling jobs like sweeping the streets, cleaning drains and council-owned premises. The street sweepers and general workers doing jobs considered dirty receive monthly wages of RM850, which will be increased to a maximum RM2,619; and an allowance of RM695 each month. Overtime rates depended on the workers' pay scale and the number of hours they put in. The pay scale for street sweepers and general workers in Penang is similar to their counterparts in other states, but general workers in Penang doing the "dirty" jobs get a special allowance of RM200 a month. They also get a month's bonus annually like other state civil servants. It was reported that from 2008, the state government has been paying its staff an annual bonus of a month's salary, or a minimum of RM1,300. The workers have been lauded by the state government for their role and contribution in keeping Penang clean – a state once called "Pulau Pinang Darul Sampah" (Penang garbage state) by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the workers also stood the chance of being nominated for awards from the state governor. Annually, 10 recipients are chosen from among the workers for state awards and 80 for excellent service. "So they are motivated to work well. They have a sense of pride in their jobs. People praise them now, not scold them like in the old days," said Lim. MBPP Urban Services Department chief senior assistant environmental health officer Mohd Rouse Md Rejab said he did not think street sweeping was a dirty job these days with the aid of road sweeping machines. "We use machines to clean the main roads. The sweepers handle the secondary roads. I don't think the job is so dirty or difficult anymore. It is just not glamorous, and not impressive to the ladies. "The public should look at it as a respectable job. These are people who work hard to take care of Penang's image," he said. – February 29, 2016.]]>

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