In Malaysia, workers in the electronic industry have long been denied the right to a national union.On 27 May 2009, the Cabinet decided that only unions at regional level would be allowed, unlike the national unions for the other industries. The Western Regional Union (covering Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Perak) was registered on 1 December 2009 , the Southern Regional Union (Johor, Malacca and Negri Sembilan) on 11 March 2010 , the Northern Region (Penang, Kedah and Perlis) on 31 March 2010 and the Eastern Regional Union (Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang) on 23 August 2010.
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Workers at ROHM-Wako Electronics (M) Sdn Bhd at No. 1320, Kawasan Perindustrian Fasa 2, 16100 Pengkalan Chepa, Kelantan had their secret ballot on 28/5/2013 and 29/5/2013 to determine whether the workers in that factory wanted to unionize.
Electronic Industry Employees Union Eastern Region Peninsular Malaysia (EIEUER)[KSIEWTSM (Kesatuan Sekerja Industri Elektronik Wilayah Timur Semenanjung Malaysia)] put in a claim for recognition to ROHM-Wako Electronics (M) Sdn Bhd on or about 16/9/2012 but the company refused to accord recognition, and hence the need for a 'secret ballot' to be conducted at the factory to determine whether 50% plus one of the qualified workers in the factory were in favour of the union.
Number of workers qualified to vote was 1,515 but only 960 workers cast their ballot, and the end result was 909 voted in favour of the union, and 51 voted against. That means 60 percent of the workers (i.e. 909/1515) were in favour of the Union.
Many workers who did not come out to vote were possibly by reason of disinterest, fear or even confusion. There were allegation that memorandum issued to shift workers stipulated the date that they were allowed to vote i.e. on just one of the days, be it 28/5/2013 or 29/5/2013. Workers in the shift that were allowed to vote on 28/5/2013 were not allowed to cast their vote on the 2nd date - the reason is beyond comprehension or logic given that the secret ballot was fixed for 2 days, and as such all workers should have been allowed to come at any day to vote. Allegedly, there was some confusion amongst non-shift workers who allegedly was not covered by the memorandum, they were allegedly only allowed to vote on 28/5/2013 and those who wanted to do so on 29/5/2013. Allegedly, the EIEUER has lodged a complaint about this - be that as it may, the workers and the Union were victorious when they managed to get 60% of workers in favour of the union.
Why did it take so long for the secret ballot to be conducted, i.e. more than eight(8) months after the claim for recognition was made on or about 16/9/2012? The laws and regulations really need to be amended to ensure, that in the event an employer company refuses to accord recognition, then the secret ballot should be conducted speedily, not more that thirty(30) days from the date the company refuses to accord recognition.
Why do companies not immediately accord recognition to unions, and expedite the enjoyment of the right to a recognized union and collective bargaining agreements? They, who respect worker rights, must accord immediate recognition especially when a Union seeking recognition is able to show that a majority of the workers are already members of the Union. The act of delaying recognition is indicative of an employer that really is not keen to respect the fundamental rights of workers to unionize... [The problem also is that the laws allow employers to evade recognition of a workers' right to a union and collective bargaining agreements..]
The additional hurdle facing workers today is the increasing usage of fixed-duration employment contracts(short-term contracts), many a time these are for 1 year or less.
Regular employment until retirement was the norm, which provided the necessary security of tenure - which is needed to ensure a certain amount of financial security to the worker and their families. Malaysian government has failed to ensure that all workers in Malaysia, save maybe migrant workers, do enjoy regular employment. Malaysian government has also failed to LIMIT the percentage of workers that an employer can employ using these short-term employment contracts.
So, if an employer employs all its workers using 1 year employment contracts. Given the time taken for a union to be registered, time taken for a registered union to become a recognised union in the factory, and time for it to work out collective bargaining agreement, workers in such companies would never have a trade union. Worse still, the protection accorded to workers unionizing, i.e. protection from being discriminated against and/or terminated by employers who may try to 'kill' the attempt to unionize have been weaken when workers are let go when their employment contracts expire. There is still no protection for workers employed under short-term employment contracts, so much so that there is no right of continued employment even if the work the worker was doing continues to exist. Employer can simply employ a NEW worker to do the work.