Stop Precarious Work, Make Contract Doctors Permanent Staff Now!

Press Statement by Labour Law Reform Coalition on 30 June 2021 in Shah Alam

Labour Law Reform Coalition calls on the government to stop the precarious contract employment system in the Ministry of Health and make contract doctors permanent staff.

It’s truly disheartening to learn that contract doctors at public hospitals, who are also an important component of the frontliners, have decided to go on strike in protest of employment insecurity when the country is fighting an uphill health crisis.

It doesn’t make sense that on the one hand the Ministry of Health continually alarmed the public that frontliners were exhausted at duties and the public healthcare system was on the brink. On another hand the ministry is keeping young doctors on contract status.

We contend that the government should transfer unused budgets from other ministries to the health ministry. Contract doctors ought to be made permanent workers, more medical doctors and nurses should be employed to strengthen our public healthcare system.

It’s high time to address the problem of shortage of manpower in our public healthcare by increasing the health budget to 7 percent of the GDP, a decent level that an upper middle income country like Malaysia should achieve.

Beefing up the budget for employment of more healthcare workers will resolve the problem of long waiting queues at public hospitals, exodus of medical doctors to private hospitals, and ensure work-life balance of healthcare workers.

We call on the government to use the pandemic as an opportunity to tackle the structural problem of our healthcare system, protect workers’ employment security.

Lastly, we remind the government that hospital cleaners are also front liners, the ministry should also convert their contract status to permanent status.

N. Gopal Kishnam
Labour Law Reform Coalition