The Union Network International-Malaysia Labour Centre (UNI-MLC) Datuk Mohamed Shafie Bp Mammal (2nd from right) with Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) lead activist Datuk Nadzim Johan (right),International Women's Alliance for Family Institution and Quality Education president, Prof. Madya Dr Rafidah Hanim (2nd from left) and Serantau Muslim Welfare Organisation executive committee member for women’s affairs Nurul Suhadah Shuib speak to media during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur. Pic by ROSDAN WAHID

KUALA LUMPUR: The argument over the “no tudung” policy purportedly in place at several hotels in the country continued today with several unions and non-governmental organisations speaking out against the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH).

The Union Network International-Malaysia Labour Centre (UNI-MLC) issued a challenge to MAH to prove that there is a standard operating procedure (SOP) barring Muslim women employees from wearing tudung.

Its president, Datuk Mohamed Shafie BP Mammal, said UNI-MLC had discussed the issue on the rights of workers in wearing tudung at work with the Human Resource Ministry since last year, yet MAH did not cooperate and failed to attend the meetings.

“We had conducted a meeting on Dec 15 last year with the government agencies to settle the issue of discrimination towards Muslim workers by the five star hotels in the country. Previously, MAH had defended its association by stating that there is an SOP which underlines every woman worker is banned from wearing tudung if they work in the hotel industry.

“I deny the idea that workers at the hotel receive offer letters which state a rule that they would not be able to wear tudung at the workplace at the start of employment.

“From the investigations conducted by us, we have identified that there are 28 hotels, mostly five star hotels, that have been practicing the ‘no tudung policy’,” he said.

Shafie said the banning of tudung had disrespected Malaysia as a majority-Muslim country and MAH should publicly release the SOP if it was really there.

“We want proof from MAH that the SOP really exists. I also urge the Human Resource Ministry to hold a meeting within two weeks’ time which MAH should attend... it can present the clear content of the SOP to everyone in the meeting (if such SOP exists).

“If MAH still refuses to do so, we would have no other choice but to lodge a police report and hold a picket at every hotel that is violating the rights of the people,” he said at a joint press conference with various NGOs.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) lead activist Datuk Nadzim Johan said all parties should take action in solidarity and put pressure on hotels which have denied the rights of Muslim hotel workers.

“We as Malaysians have to deal with this issue of discrimination as this is a national issue which at the same time violates human rights. We call on the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and state religious departments to take back such hotels’ halal certificates in order to pressure them into stopping the discrimination against Muslim women,” he said.

Also present at the press conference session were Malaysian Trades Union Congress financial secretary Mohd Effendy Abdul Ghani, International Women’s Alliance for Family Institution and Quality Education president Dr Rafidah Hanim Mokhtar and Serantau Muslim Welfare Organisation executive committee member for women’s affairs Nurul Suhadah Shuib.

Previously, the banning of headscarf became a dispute between various parties when the issue concerning the no-headscarf uniform policy came to light following a report made by the Malaysian Employers Federation which had received complaints from hotel workers.

MAH was reported to have said that the no tudung policy for hotel frontline staff was an international practice based on SOP.