Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What happened to the 18 workers terminated by DRB HICOM subsidiaries?

To extract commitments on workers' rights from contesting candidates and political parties involved in GE13, 18 workers submitted the MTUC memorandum to one of the contesting candidates in the Pekan parliamentary constituency
 
On 22/5/2013, 2 DRB HICOM subsidiaries initiated disciplinary action. In response, 52 groups came out with a Joint Statement on 25/6/2013, DRB HICOM Must Respect The Citizens’ Right To Participate In The Democratic Process In Malaysia– Stop disciplinary action against workers for exercising their political rights.[see below ] The statement was also sent to the Prime Minister Najib, amongst others, - but no response from him - not even an acknowledgement of receipt. [And, he wonders why people have to resort to peaceful assemblies as a means of communicating their views.]
 
All 18 workers were accorded the right to a Domestic Inquiry(DI), but alas the best rep from the National Union of Transport Equipment and Allied Industries Workers (NUTEAIW) was not allowed to represent the 18 at the DI, the company only allowed the worker to be represented by an employee of the same workplace. Neither the Union or any of the 18 did challenge the right to representation to the High Court, more so since the Collective Bargaining Agreement is between the employer and the National Union. 
 
19/8/2013 - all 18 workers were terminated, and on 20/8/2013, the National Union issued a Media Statement, "Termination action against workers exercising their political rights is abhorred"
 
On 11/9/2013, the dismissed worker and their families picketed in from of the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya, and on that day also in front of DRB HICOM. [I believe it was not a National Union picket, although some leaders of the Union were present, but fellow workers fellow members seem to have not been involved.]
 
A campaign for initiated by civil society groups, but later the National Union and the affected 18 workers decided to opt for a different method to resolve the issue. They asked us to stop and not go forward with the campaign. They elected to use the services of a politician who would meet with DRB HICOM and try to amicably resolve the issue which will include the reinstatement of the said workers. 

Towards the end of December, the DRB HICOM companies allegedly came back with their formal offer for reinstatement subject to certain listed conditions, which included apologies from the 18 and also the National Union, massive pay cuts, demotions and resignation of all the 18 from all union positions and a assurance not to hold union positions. The offer was rejected. 

The 18 and the National Union elected to still allow the said politician to try again... hence no campaign was proceeded with. 

More than 8 months since termination, and we hope that the new efforts vide the third party would soon bear fruits.....we also hope that if it does not, the said workers would agree to us campaigning for justice for them. 

People may be ready to campaign for justice for victims of rights violations, but alas if the victims themselves tell us not to, what can we do?  

What was disturbing in the DRB HICOM case was that even after disciplinary action, and later the termination happened, the fellow workers in the affected factories never even came out in solidarity to picket the actions of the employer. Now, these same factory workers have the experience of doing pickets in the past, the last being February 2013.  500 pekerja kilang DRB-Hicom, Pekan, Pahang berpiketmenuntut hak mereka untuk mendapat kenaikan gaji
 
 
 

Joint  Statement – 25/6/2013 (now 52)
DRB HICOM MUST RESPECT THE CITIZENS’ RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS IN MALAYSIA
– Stop disciplinary action against workers for exercising their political rights.
We, the undersigned 52 civil society organizations, trade unions and concerned groups, are appalled by the actions of two DRB Hicom companies based in Pekan, namely HICOM Automotive Manufacturers (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd and ISUZU HICOM Malaysia Sdn Bhd for taking disciplinary action against 18 workers who merely exercised their rights (outside working hours), as citizens, to participate in the democratic process.  Pursuant to a decision by the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC), which was also supported by the National Union of Transport Equipment and Allied Industries Workers (NUTEAIW),  to extract commitments on workers' rights from contesting candidates and political parties involved in GE13, workers throughout Malaysia, including in Pekan, met or attempted to meet  contesting candidates from all parties before election day, being on 5/5/2013. 
Accordingly, on 3/5/2013, a group of 18 workers submitted the MTUC memorandum to one of the contesting candidates in the Pekan parliamentary constituency, which also happens to be the constituency that the Prime Minister of Malaysia was contesting.
On account of this act, disciplinary action has been initiated by 2  DRB HICOM companies based in Pekan against these 18 workers. 
First, HICOM Automotive Manufacturers (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, which assembles automobiles for Suzuki, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen, has issued show cause letters on  22/5/2013 to 16 workers, and speedily proceeded with the 'Domestic Inquiry' which began on 11/6/2013. At present the Domestic Inquiry is yet to end and there is no decision.
Second, ISUZU HICOM Malaysia Sdn Bhd, that assembles automobiles for Isuzu, also issued show cause letters to 2 workers. They, too, are awaiting the decision of the Domestic Inquiry. Significantly, the workers were NOT allowed the right to be represented by lawyers or representatives of the National Union, only by representatives from the work site committee. 
We consider the action taken by the two DRB Hicom companies not only a gross violation of worker rights. It is also a violation of the right of citizens to participate in the democratic process of Malaysia, especially during elections. No employer should have the right to dictate directly or indirectly the political choices, activities and/or actions of their workers, more so outside employment hours. Workers, as citizens, of Malaysia must have the freedom to join and participate in any political party of their choice, offer themselves as candidates if they so wish, and involve themselves in campaigning in general elections.
Hence DRB Hicom's taking disciplinary action against these 18 workers for exercising their rights as citizens in the run-up to GE13, is completely uncalled for. It is a gross violation of the rights of these 18 workers. Under the circumstances, we demand that DRB Hicom stop all disciplinary actions being taken against these 18 workers immediately. If any of these 18 workers have already been terminated,  they should be reinstated immediately.
We understand that the charges leveled against the workers are (1) undermining the image or good name of the company orally, in writing or by action, and (2) bringing about or trying to bring about any form of influence or outside pressure to submit or support any external claim that is related to service be it an individual claim or claims of other employees.
We further understand that the employer DRB Hicom is trying to rationalise its action against the said 18 workers - in seeking a commitment on workers rights from the Pekan parliamentary candidate – by claiming that the workers might have given the 'false impression' that 'the company was involved in politics' which is contrary to the company's stance.
We find such an explanation laughable! Indeed, it is hypocritical given the fact that during the electoral campaign period, on 25/4/2013, the company had encouraged workers to go and meet the Barisan Nasional Paliamentary candidate for Pekan, Mohd Najib Abdul Razak, also the incumbent Prime Minister. Indeed, workers were allowed to go for the meeting during working hours! This event was also highlighted in Najib’s 13th General Election Pekan Constituency candidate website (http://www.parlimenpekan.com/?p=840), and the posting was entitled ‘Dato’ Sri Najib Beramah Mesra Dengan Warga DRB-Hicom Pekan’(Dato’ Sri Najib Socialize with DRB-Hicom citizenry). Later that very day women workers were also allowed by the company to meet up with Najib’s wife. 
Companies and businesses should never terminate a worker for reasons other than matters 
that relate to work performance and/or their conduct as a worker save in very exceptional cases, for eg, like when a worker is convicted of a criminal offence.
These 18 workers have families and children, and a termination would cause great hardship to their well-being and livelihood. Amongst the 18 are also trade union leaders, including also the current chairperson of MTUC Pahang Division. We hope that the termination of worker leaders does not occur and that the two DRB HICOM companies are not resorting to ‘union busting’.
We call on DRB Hicom, HICOM Automotive Manufacturers (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd and ISUZU HICOM Malaysia Sdn Bhd to immediately discontinue disciplinary action against the said 18 workers, and if any be already terminated to immediately reinstate them without loss of benefits.
We call on Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak, being also the Member of Parliament for Pekan, to intervene and ensure that the rights of his constituents, as workers and as citizens, are not violated by employers.
Charles Hector
Mohd Roszeli bin Majid
Pranom Somwong
For and on behalf the 52 organisations listed below
ALIRAN
Asia  Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development ( APWLD)
Asian Migrant Centre (AMC)
Association of Maybank Executives
Building and Wood Workers International Asia Pacific
Burma Campaign Malaysia
Clean Clothes Campaign
Community Action Network (CAN), Malaysia
Dignity International
Group of Concerned Citizens
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
Human Rights Ambassador for Salem News , UK 
Jawatankuasa Sahabat Rakyat (人民之友)
Kesatuan Pekerja-Pekerja Polyplastics Asia Pacific
Kesatuan Sekerja Industri Elektronik Wilayah Selatan Semenanjung Malaysia
Kesatuan Pekerja Pekerja Kelab Semenanjung Malaysia
Legal Aid Commission, Sri Lanka
MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
Malaysians for Beng Hock
Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility
Migrante International
Migrants Rights Council,India
MTUC(Malaysian Trade Union Congress) Melaka
MTUC(Malaysian Trade Union Congress) Pahang
MTUC(Malaysian Trade Union Congress) Penang Division
Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia(NAMM)
NUBE (National Union of Banking Employees), Malaysia
NUHBRW (National Union of Hotel, Bar and Restaurant Workers), Malaysia
Parti Rakyat Malaysia(PRM)
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti, Selangor (EMPOWER)
Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
Pusat KOMAS (KOMAS)
Sarawak Dayak Iban Association
SUARAM (Suara Rakyat Malaysia)
Tenaganita, Malaysia
Think Centre, Singapore
Tenaga Nasional Berhad Junior Officers Union (TNBJOU), Malaysia
WARBE Development Foundation-Bangladesh
Women's Aid Organisation (WAO), Malaysia
Workers Assistance Center, Inc, Philippines
Workers Hub For Change (WH4C)
Additional Endorsements:
NLD LA Malaysia
Yayasan LINTAS NUSA - Batam Indonesia
IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh
WARBE Development Foundation-Bangladesh
Committee for a Workers' International (CWI) Malaysia
Women's Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC), Nepal
National Alliance Of Women Human Rights Defenders Alliances, Nepal
Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW), Cambodia
HMISC (Hsinchu Cathoic Diocese Migrants and Immigrants Service Center, Taiwan
National Domestic Workers’ Movement (NDWM), India
Kesatuan Pekerja-Pekerja MHS Aviation Berhad
 
Note:- The statement was send to the Prime Minister of Malaysia but still no response yet.

25 June, 2013
Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak,
Member of Parlimen Pekan P.085
Prime Minister of Malaysia,
Prime Minister's Office,
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building,
Federal Government Administrative Centre,
62502 Putrajaya, MALAYSIA
Dear Sir,
Please find enclosed this Joint Statement of 41 organizations and groups, dated 25/6/2013, entitled “DRB HICOM Must Respect The Citizens’ Right To Participate In The Democratic Process In Malaysia – Stop disciplinary action against workers for exercising their political rights.
We call on you, Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak, being also the Member of Parliament for Pekan, to intervene and ensure that the rights of his constituents, as workers and as citizens, are not violated by employers. Intervene to ensure that the disciplinary action against the said 18 workers is discontinued, and ensure that they not be terminated for exercising the rights as citizens in a democracy.
Kindly acknowledge receipt, and we would appreciate being kept informed of steps taken in response to this statement.
Thank you.
In solidarity,
Charles Hector           Mohd Roszeli bin Majid           Pranom Somwong
For and on behalf of the said 41 Organisations/Groups

1 comment:

Miza Yahya said...

Stop wasting energy and time at the street unrest, get working for the good of all, build progressive Malaysia, no one gain from the street demonstration.