Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Malaysian BN Government continue to be seen as anti-worker and anti-trade union?

The Barisan Nasional government of late has shown itself to be anti-worker and trade unions, and at the same time it is sad that our Opposition parties also seem to be not so concerned about workers...or trade unions.

One of the fundamental rights of workers is freedom of association - i.e. the right to form and join trade unions - but alas, in Malaysia, there are so many steps:- (1) Registration of the Trade Union; (2) Getting the Employer to Accord Registration; (3) Working Out a Collective Bargaining Agreement(CBA) - BUT the problem is that workers in Malaysia are losing their right to a 'Regular Employment Until Retirement' - and this is being replaced by precarious forms of employment - like 'short-term contract employment' (in Malaysian Airlines, the potential new employer is allegedly offering 3-month contracts, 6-month contracts, ...but generally we see that contracts are for about 1 year but less than 12 months, usage of workers supplied by third parties(contractor of labour) where these workers work at the workplace of a particular employer but are not 'employees' - hence cannot join unions of employees of the said employer nor benefit from existing CBAs or unions, using of 'outsourcing' of work to third parties.

Now, the entire process of getting a union registered, and then recognized, Malaysia takes years > so workers in 'precarious forms of employment' like short-term contracts even if they start the process will never benefit from the fruits of being a member of the trade union. Also, very easily an employer can just not RENEW or EXTEND the contract of the workers involved. 

Existing Trade Unions also have elections usually once every THREE(3) years - and as such short-term employees may join unions, but their rights are restricted to just being 'members' when true freedom of association also means that they have a right to stand for elections and become leaders of unions. Now, especially 'short-term contract' employees are fearful of joining unions - because they worry that their 'joining' will result in their existing contracts not being extended or being offered any new contracts to continue employment with the said employer.

Some progressive countries make it clear that all employees involved in the 'core business' of the employer shall be regular employees until retirement - they cannot be 'short-term contract employees' - but Malaysia and the BN is not interested in such provisions in law to protect worker rights.

Even though the work that a 'short-term contract employee' is doing still exist and a worker is needed to do the work, employers easily can just employ some other worker. If Malaysia and the BN is really concerned with workers, there should be a law that does not allow a short-term contract employee to be let go at the end of contract period, if the work he/she was doing still exist. The employer must be compelled to keep on the said short-term contract employee for so long as the work he/she was doing exists.

In Malaysian Airlines, it is ironical that Malaysian workers are being offered 3-months and 5-months contracts, when even migrant workers now come in with contracts of of least 3 years (with a possible extension of 1 -2 years). 

Now, under regular employment, let us not forget that an employer can also let go an employee but it must be for legitimate reasons only:-
1) Displinary Reasons - employee commits a misconduct or does something that is a breach of contract of employment;
2) Retrenchment or Lay-Off - when the employer has no more work, or his business no longer requires so many workers, employers easily can RETRENCH employees... 

Employers not sure whether the employee can do the work or is suitable, under regular employment, we have they 'try out' period, we call probation which justly should not be more than three(3) months - this is the time the employer evaluates the works and skills of the employee, and if the employer is OK with the worker, he confirms the employee and he/she becomes a regular employee, and if the employer is NOT SATISFIED, he lets the worker go...

There is thus no reason why all employees in Malaysia should be REGULAR EMPLOYEES until retirement. With regard to migrant workers, it is acceptable that the be employees for the full 3 or 5 years (with the option for extending the contract period 1 - 2 years). But alas, Malaysian BN government seems disinterested in welfare and wellbeing of workers and their families - they seem to be more pro-employer...

It is also sad that the Government itself, on in its Government Owned 'Private Companies' or even Government Controlled 'Private Companies'(this where the government effectively own more than 50% of the shares) or Government Linked Companies(GLC)...does not protect and promote worker and trade union rights. It may be said that this BN government has become no more a 'government of the people for the people'...but rather a 'goverment for the best interest of businesses and employers'.

Most clear is the MINIMUM WAGE - it took Malaysia too long to even put this in place - Workers here started earning Minimum Wage on 1 January 2013 - and then the government exempted so many different employers from paying this 'minimum wage'. The law said that the Minimum Wage rate will be reviewed on or before 2 years - but 1 January 2015 came and went, and workers in Malaysia is still being paid the same old Minimum Wage which was calculated and determined to be fair on or about mid-2012, being the date the Order setting the Minimum Wage came out. The Prime Minister, according to news reports, is confused or 'did lie' about when Minimum Wage was implemented and when it should be reviewed again....(see earlier posts)

MTUC disappointed that after 2 years and 4 months, workers Minimum Wage rates still not increased

Would Najib's announcement on Minimum Wage affect outcome in Permatang Pauh and Rompin by-elections?

PM Najib lied about minimum wage? Honesty is always needed from Government

Some recent examples. as to why I say this:- 

DRB HICOM companies in Pekan :- Workers who went to get commitment on worker and trade union issues from contesting candidates in Malaysia's General Elections were terminated.

45 Groups saya '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. (now 52)

51 kini menuntut DRB HICOM MENGHORMATI HAK RAKYAT UNTUK MENGAMBIL BAHAGIAN DALAM PROSES DEMOKRASI DI MALAYSIA – Hentikan tindakan disiplin terhadap pekerja kerana melaksanakan hak politik mereka

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

British American Tobacco(BAT) workers :- 11 workers involved in a legitimate picket were arrested and charged in court for 'making excessive noise'. Now, picket is a right provided for in Malaysian law - which also clearly stipulates the do's and dont's. The police should never have interfered with the right to picket - and they should never have been 'charged' - now the BN government could very easily dropped the charges - and reinforced the availability of the right to picket - but. I believe, until now it has not done so. [In Malaysia, it is most difficult to 'strike or do other industrial actions' - and the only remaining action available to workers is the PICKET.

11 picketing workers charged for EXCESSIVE NOISE?

Malaysian Airlines (MAS to MAB) - The BN government pushed and passed an Act of Parliament that literally suspended worker and trade union union rights as now available in law, and also suspended access to justice mechanisms. The Act also effectively denied justice to workers. 

Well, by reason of financial losses incurred by MAS(Malaysian Airlines Systems Berhad), the government of Malaysia, now the 100% owner of MAS through Khazanah Nasional, decided on restructuring the airline and pumping in about RM6 Billion. This, they said, involved cutting the employees by about 6,000. 

Retrenchment would be the correct way to do this - you lay-off 6,000, simple. But, this is not what MAS did - they just terminated ALL about 20,000 MAS employees and the date of termination for all will be 31/8/2015. For some (possibly about 6,000), the day the letter of termination was handed, they were told to no more come in for work - just 'relax' at home and receive your monthly salary until date of termination on 31/8/2015 - and until then cannot work with other employer. 

What should have been done was just retrench all the workers you do not need anymore on 1/6/2015 - pay them their retrenchment and lay off benefit plus maybe even 3 months pay in lieu of notice.  ....BUT MAS knew that if they did that, then the LAW must be followed...the 'LIFO'[Last In First Out] Principle and other provisions of law and justice. To thus, possibly evade all this, MAS simply terminates ALL on the SAME day - 31/8/2015. But, injustice for those employees not allowed to come in to work from now until 31/8/2015 - for they will certainly lose out in terms of allowances, overtime, etc... and in the airline industry, for some is it the allowances, OT, etc  that makes up to 60% of their monthly 'take home pay'. Not going to work, will now result in a much reduced monthly income. Hence, here the workers are denied the now existing rights in law, are they not?

Well, so why don't the workers forced to stop coming in to work in June, when the termination date is really 31/8/2015 seek justice by taking up an action in court? Well, the reason is simply because they want the termination date for all workers to be the same, so that the LIFO(Last In First Out Principle) and other laws that ensures a JUST lay off or retrenchment exercise will not be applicable. Worse, still this really prejudices the employees of MAS who have to stay home until 31/8/2015. 

Are they all getting new employment as regular employees?
Yes, there are lot of reports in the media of people offering employment to these 6,000 ... but really when will they be starting work - 1/9/2015? And will they be taken in as regular employees ...or just some sort of 'short-term contract' employees. Will their length of tenure in MAS be taken into account in these new jobs? Allegedly, even for those who have been offered employment in Malaysian Airlines Berhad(MAB), the new company that will be taking over the Malaysian airline business are saying that they will be losing out in terms of 'salary' (lower salaries compared to what they were earning before???), and of course the loss of tenure... We need to have sight of these 'new employment contracts' of MAB. Allegedly, most are being offered short-term contract employment - remember that previously many of these were regular employees of MAS.

Union busting in MAS? 
Well, save for one all the other about 7 trade unions in MAS are all in-house unions - so all these Unions will also die a natural death on 31/8/2015 when MAS will most likely have no employees - all terminated. Malaysia's trade union laws generally says that once the employer terminates - the employee can no longer be Union members. Thus, this becomes a case of Union Busting by the government. Hence, now unions will need to be registered recognition again... but then, as mentioned earlier if the employees of the new MAB are on short-term contracts - the employees may just be too fearful to try to register a Union. 

Malaysian Airlines(MAS) Employees and Trade Union Rights at risk by new law being rushed through - joint statement endorsed by 37 groups

Najib to be blamed for MAS's failure,loss of employment of thousands, union busting,..?

- many post on what is happening in MAS - do a search, and you will find it


See also:- 


Worker and trade union rights in BN-ruled Malaysia (Part 1)

Workers’ and trade union rights in BN-ruled Malaysia (Part 2)


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