Witness #16 | Roziah binti Mohammed Hashim
My name is Roziah binti Mohammed Hashim I have worked at a hospital for almost 10 years. I am the Chairperson of the National Union of Workers in Hospital Support and Allied Services. I am also a single mother.
As a single mother, there aren’t many employment options available. Many of my co-workers in the hospital are also single mothers, and we chose this job because we can work shifts and we can organise our schedules so that we can take care of family matters.
But this job pays only a little, and many have to work part-time outside in order to earn enough. Despite working for years, salaries are still low, with no increments. If the salary goes up every year, we would not have to work two jobs, as one job would be sufficient to cover expenses, and we would also have a lot of time for our children, to take care of their education, etc. I too have two jobs, one at the hospital and one doing tailoring at home. Low wages and the contract system — these have all become obstacles that hinder female workers, especially single mothers, from having time to take care of their children.
Ever since I started participating in union activities, I have often been harassed by my employer. The supervisor often threatened and scolded us, and the supervisor was biased. I was forced to work in two to three locations in one day. If the place was large, there were friends who needed to travel by motorbike to get to the area. This added to the workload, and the workers would become very tired, and not be able to clean all the areas properly. The salary did not rise although the workload increased. All this was done intentionally, so that we would not join the union to defend the fate of women workers, and defend our own interests. Compared to male workers, female workers are more afraid to fight, and they hope for others to fight for them. Hence employers are not afraid, because the workers do not dare to oppose them.
Not only are there obstacles from employers, but we are also prevented from standing up for ourselves. For example, female workers constantly face pressure from families. Many of my co-workers also are constantly pressured by their family members, such as husbands and children, to not participate in the union. Some female union members are prohibited from attending meetings that are held at night, based on various excuses — that they need to take care of the household and cook, that women should not come home late, and so on. Most union members are forced to withdraw because they want to maintain harmony at home. This makes it very difficult for women to defend their own interests. In addition, employers constantly harass and threaten, making it even more difficult for us to convince our co-workers to join forces to fight collectively.
As the Chairperson of the union, I hope this contract system will be abolished — take us back as government workers, and cease all union-busting tactics.
This is a translation of the original testimony in Bahasa Malaysia.