The workers, led by the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC), protested at some 18 locations throughout the country.
The groups have taken issue with several clauses in the amendment, the most contentious being the reintroduction of labour contractors which has not seen light since 1955 when it was abolished.
The provision allows employers to recruit workers from labour contractors instead of employing them directly, leaving workers at the mercy of such contractors without guarantee of EPF or Socso.
'Workers are the largest bloc of voters'
At Petaling Jaya 200 workers converged opposite of PJ Hilton Hotel with chants of "Tarik Balik!" (withdraw) echoing across the street.
Cars passing the protestors honked in support as the protestors held up their placards.
Some of them read: ‘Abolish the contract system for workers', ‘The government has forgotten worker's contribution', ‘Workers are the largest bloc of voters' and ‘Long live the workers!'.
Police presence was barely felt, with only two uniformed police officers watching on and another two traffic police officers directing the flow of traffic for the picket.
The group in PJ was led by MTUC secretary-general Abdul Halim who estimated that the number of participants in the picket nationwide came close to 10,000.
Also present to share their solidarity were Senator Syed Husin Ali, Selayang MP William Leong, PJ Selatan MP Hee Loy Sian, PKR vice president N Surendran and human rights group Suaram chairperson K Arumugam.
Protestors demand minister's resignation
Meanwhile, in Kuala Lumpur, some 200 workers converged in front of the EPF building to express their discontent over the amendment.
Gathering as early as 5pm, the group which was also led by MTUC, was backed by top Pakatan Rakyat and Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) leaders.
Among those present were DAP supremo and Ipoh Timur MP Lim Kit Siang, Sibu MP Wong Ho Leng, Kuala Krai MP Mohd Hatta Ramli and PSM secretary-general S Arutchelvan.
The group chanted "Withdraw the amendment", "Long live MTUC" and "Minister - Step down" in reference in Human Resource Minister S Subramaniam with whom discussions have reached a stalemate.
They also put up some 10 banners condemning the amendment while others held up placards reading ‘Don't pawn workers' rights' and ‘Minister cheats workers'.
Meanwhile, PKR in solidarity with MTUC also held its own protests in four locations at Kuala Langat, Shah Alam, Hulu Selangor and Klang.
The amendment to the Employment Act was passed in Parliament on Oct 6 after last ditch negotiations between MTUC and the government fell apart. - Malaysiakini, 3/11/2011, Thousands picket against Employment Act
Festive air as workers picket new labour law
UPDATED @ 07:52:48 PM 03-11-2011November 03, 2011KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 — Despite a slow start, a workers’ protest against a new labour law outside the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) building in Jalan Raja Laut here swelled from 50 people to 200 within a half hour and rising.
The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC), an umbrella body comprising 390 labour unions representing 802,323 members, kicked off at 5pm its nationwide picket against amendments to the Employment Act here and 19 other spots nationwide.
Motorists driving by the previously deserted roads honked noisily in support of the demonstrators holding aloft placards that read: “Jangan tukar akta sekerja”; “Hentikan pindaan sekarang” and “Menteri tipu pekerja”, and chant “Hidup MTUC! Hidup pekerja!”
Festivity filled the air as the demonstrators, donning their various union colours and some even wearing Halloween masks, took to singing through loudhailers, blowing on whistles and beating a beat on kompangs as they line the sidewalk that stretch out as far as 100 metres in front of the EPF building.
Some had come in colourful raincoats and bandanas in anticipation of rain but the picket continued peacefully beneath clear skies.
Only a small group of uniformed policemen kept watch nearby.
The crowd whistled loudly each time a federal opposition leader arrived. The DAP’s Lim Kit Siang, Wong Ho Leng, A. Sivanesan and M. Kulasegaran were joined by allies from PKR, PAS and others from Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM).
The country’s main labour centre for the private sector have accused the government of bringing back “slave-like” conditions with the amendments which, they said, erode protection for workers.
Its secretary-general Abdul Halim Mansor had said some 500 people would take part at each location.
In Petaling Jaya, a similar festivity filled the air outside Wisma TWU in Jalan Barat, opposite the Hilton hotel though the number of picketeers were far smaller.
At the start, there were only 10 demonstratorsm but they grew to about 80 within the half hour.MTUC president Khalid Atan who arrived at the Jalan Raja Laut protest shortly after it kicked off, declared the picket a success.
He said some 2,000 people took part in 18 locations nationwide and added that the picket at Jalan Raja Laut has hit its targeted 500 mark.
“The response is very encouraging and we hope this picket will send a clear message across to the government that we reject these labour law amendments,” he told a harried press conference on the sidelines of the protest.
He said although Parliament had already passed the contentious amendments to the law on October 6, the MTUC was still willing to negotiate changes and work with the Human Resources Ministry.
“I will not speculate on what our next move will be after this picket but we will deliberate on this during our next general council meeting and keep you informed,” he said.
Khalid also defended the attendance of opposition lawmakers at the picket, stressing that MTUC had not issued any formal invitations to any political party.
“We did not know they planned to attend and we cannot tell them to leave. Perhaps they felt it is their duty as an MP to show support.
“But MTUC is non-partisan,” he said.
Low turnout at labour laws protestThe demonstration organised by the MTUC manages to draw only 100 members.
KUALA LUMPUR: About 100 MTUC members gathered at the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) headquarters here today to protest against the recent amendments to the Employment Act.
The turnout is lower than the 500 predicted by Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) president Khalid Atan.
Most of the picketing crowd are members of the Malaysian Trade Union Rights Network (PSI), an affiliate of the MTUC.
Also present were DAP stalwarts Lim Kit Siang and M Kulasegaran who were joined by Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) secretary-general S Arutchelvan and Oppressed People’s Network (Jerit) coordinator E Nalini.
Trade unions alleged that the amendments would further erode workers’ rights in Malaysia.
Last month, Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam tabled the controversial amendments in the Dewan Rakyat despite widespread objection by MTUC and the opposition parties.
The MTUC had organised a peaceful protest against the amendment at the entrance to Parliament last month which attracted about 100 people.
Trade unions claimed that the new amendments would absolve employers of any responsibility to their workers as the latter would come under the purview of the recruitment agency.
The amendments, MTUC added, would also allow employers to delay overtime payment by a month which would affect the low-income group. - Free Malaysia Today, 3/11/2011, Low turnout at labour laws protest
KUALA LUMPUR: The MTUC went ahead with its picket after office hours on Thursday to protest the amendments to the Employment Act 1955, which was passed by the Dewan Rakyat on Oct 6.
Dressed in white and blue, a small group turned up at Jalan Raja Laut here about 5pm, holding banners, including Stop Contractor for Labour' and Hands off Workers'.
Also there were DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang and Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran.The group grew bigger later and began chanting withdraw amendments to the Act' and Long live workers'.
In Petaling Jaya, another group, led by MTUC secretary-general Abdul Halem Mansor, picketted outside PJ Hilton.- Star, 3/11/2011, MTUC goes ahead with picket