1991/92 Nationwide campaign to demand that plantation workers come under the development purview of the Rural Development Ministry and not left at the mercy of the plantation companies. Since plantations were considered private property, amenities, housing , education, nursery , recreation facilities were all to be provided by the plantation companies, thus workers lived in deplorable conditions. This nationwide campaign kick started in 1991, PSM comrades with other organizations embarked on a nationwide signature campaign to demand government invention. We visited workers in nearly all the plantations in the west coast, mobilizing them to demand for change.
Thousands of signatures were collected and petition cards were handed over to the Prime Minster at that time Mahathir Mohamed. As a result the government responded by requiring all plantations below 100 acres to be under the Rural Development Ministries development plan.
The campaign highlight was the 1994, MayDay celebrations in Dataran Merdeka, where we mobilized over 2000 plantation workers and urban pioneers (urban poor) to demonstrate in Dataran Merdeka. This was the first ever mass public demonstration after the spectra of fear of the ISA crackdown in 1987.
1996 – National campaign to demand for Plantation worker minimum wage. This campaign was launched on MayDay 1996 in Bukit Raja Estate in Klang. It demanded a basic minimum wage for plantation workers. Plantation workers since the colonial days, were only paid daily wages based on the output of rubber tapped, latex and scrap rubber OR quantity of fresh fruit bunches that they harvested in the oil palm plantations. The wages were directly linked to the prices of rubber and plam oil in the world market, where the worker have completely no control off. Such exploitation of labour, enabled the plantation companies to reap huge profits for decades. Our campaign demanded a minimum wage of RM750 for plantation workers.
This was a nationwide campaign, visiting etates, talking to workers having forums and protest. The campaigns were coordinated by PSM grassroots organization, Jawatankuasa Sokongan Masyarakat Ladang. The climax event was held, when over 1000 plantation workers had a protest in Parliament in April, 1999. Petition cards demanding for monthly wages for plantation workers were for the first time taken into the Parliament .
As a reaction to the campaign, the then Human Resources Minister, Fong Chan Onn, announced a minimum wage of RM325 for all plantation workers on top of which their wages will be calculated based on commodity prices and productivity.
2002 – PSM’s front organization JERIT (Jarimgan Rakyat Tertindas) launched a Minimum Wage campaign for all Malaysian workers. The amount demanded was RM900 per month. There was no minimum wage in Malaysia before this. Employers were given a free hand to pay even as low as RM400-RM600 as monthly wages. The nationwide campaign did mass signature collection on petition cards through the country with roadshows held in many states. Leaflets, badges, T shirts were prepared to mobilise workers for this campaign.
2015 – Campaign for Workers Retrenchment Fund. – Human Resources Minister Richard Riot must immediately work on establishing a comprehensive Workers’ Retrenchment Fund in the wake of increasing retrenchments, Despite the increasing number of workers being retrenched, PSM is disappointed that the human resources minister is still turning a deaf ear to the demand to establish a Workers’ Retrenchment Fund to assist retrenched workers and their families. The fund, should take the form of a seed fund from the government, topped up by contributions from employers and employees, and managed by Socso (Social Security Organisation).
PSM proposes that the fund provide immediate payouts to workers so that they do not fall into the poverty trap. Workers who lose their jobs usually find it difficult to get new jobs as most employers are trying to reduce costs. Reskilling requires time and the affected workers end up defaulting on their car and housing repayments.
A nationwide roadshow was held in all states from Perlis to Johor. PSM comrades throughtout the country tirelessly involved themselves to visit public areas, distribute leaflets, explain to the public on the campaign and get their signatures. At the end of the campaign, more than 30,000 cards were collected and delivered to the Human Resources Minister Dato Richard Riot on 29th March, 2017.
The Employment Insurance Scheme ( the name for the Workers Retrenchment Fund) was tabled in end 2017, approved and announced to be implemented effective January 2019 , but deductions would begin Jan 2018 from employers and workers.