KUALA LUMPUR – September 14, 2020: Malaysians are calling for better treatment of cleaners, especially those who work in the healthcare sector.
This comes after an excerpt from a documentary about the struggles of hospital cleaners titled “Bila Kami Bersatu” by Minxi Chua and Asyraf Abdul Samad became viral through Amnesty International’s social media accounts three days ago.
“Why can’t people like us get a raise? Other people can get a raise. Why can’t we? Our kids are getting older and our health is getting worse too,” said a cleaner in the video.
Thousands of people have since expressed their support for the cleaners by sharing the video and their thoughts on the matter.
Specific hashtag #CleanerJugaFrontliners was also making its rounds in Twitter.
Dr Khor Swee Kheng, through his Twitter account lamented on how failing to treat the country’s cleaners could adversely affect public health.
“My colleagues help keep Malaysia healthy, but they cannot get fair treatment. Here are the issues; gender and racial discrimination, social inequality and irresponsible capitalism.
“All are threats to public health. Cleaners are our friends and colleagues, they deserve much better,” wrote Khor, who is a specialist in health system and policies.
Rahmat Hanaffi, in expressing his grief over the treatment of cleaners vowed that he would join any movement if it means fighting for the rights of cleaners in Malaysia.
“My heart breaks. This is why we should always thank them for cleaning up after us. I’d join any movement to fight for them,” he said.
Another Twitter user who goes by the name of Woody also lamented the harsh truth regarding cleaners and other labor workers.
“This made me sad because it’s true. Corporations treat manual labor workers like slaves. Disposable. Insignificant. They should also be given opportunity to grow and improve themselves,” he said.
Back in June this year, five activists of National Union of Workers in Hospital Support and Allied Services (NUHWAS) were arrested during their protest outside Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun in Ipoh.
They were arrested, remanded overnight, and subsequently charged for violating the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).
Each of the activists now faces a fine of up to RM1,000 or six months’ imprisonment or both.
The hospital cleaner’s union had launched a crowdfund to hire lawyers for them.
The union also urged Malaysians who want to help their cause to write a letter to the Attorney-General (AG), asking him to drop all charges. It could be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
To better understand the life and plight of our cleaners, you can watch the video documentary below.