It is a sad day when the Malaysian Trade Union Congress(MTUC) seems to be now in favour of the TPPA just because one of the by-products will be possible amendment of labour laws. This was one of the pre-conditions of joining the TPPA insisted especially by the US government, which saw the signing of and agreement between Malaysia and the US.
MTUC is the Labour Centre considered by the Malaysian government to be representative of the workers in Malaysia. At the International Labour Organisation(ILO), MTUC is the acknowledged worker representative of Malaysia. For now, MTUC is seen as the government-approved representative of all workers/unions in Malaysia..
The position taken by MTUC, as reported in this news report is rather embarrassing - and it is inconsistent with the anti-TPPA position adopted by civil society organisations, trade unions and many Malaysians. What do the over 10 million workers think of MTUC's stance on the TPPA. What does the unions who are members of MTUC think? Or is this merely the view of the leadership of MTUC...Remember, the fight against the TPPA is ongoing...
Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)...But contrary to its previous stance of opposing the world’s largest trade pact, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) is actually looking forward to its implementation...This is because chapter 19 of the TPPA talks about labour rights, among others....“In addition to chapter 19, there is a bilateral agreement signed between the Malaysian government and the United States where the US government is requesting Malaysia to reform its labour laws,”
IMPROVING LABOUR RIGHTS THROUGH STRUGGLE
The struggle to change laws to better worker/trade union rights must be the struggle of the labour movement, MTUC and the rest of the unions. Most times, MTUC and the Unions do not even lobby the public and get them involved in the struggle to improve worker and trade union rights. Have a look at the MTUC site - there is not even information about what changes in law that MTUC is struggling for now, it seems that MTUC simply 'secretly' communicate to the government - so 'secret' that even union members and workers do not know what MTUC is fighting for, and in what issues they have 'compromised'? Is MTUC still fighting for the abolition of the contractor for labour system - noting it still exist in all sectors, and there is no LIMIT as to how many such workers employers could use - soon it may be 90%? Remember, the 'contractor for labour system' seem to not consider the owners of factory and the workplaces as the 'employer' - hence denying these workers the right to fight for better working conditions and workplace rights (And, of course the 'labour suppliers' will not be able to improve working conditions?)...No unions to date representing these 'contractor for labour' supplied workers?
Labour reforms should have been won through the struggle of workers and unions in Malaysia, but alas now in comes as a result of US-Malaysian Agreement connected with the TPPA. Was these reforms done in consultation with the workers (or the labour movement) in Malaysia?
True, some of these labour reforms are positive - but MTUC really must take a stance on the TPPA. You do not support such terrible agreements just because you like some of the 'goodies'.
WE RAISE ISSUES...NOT 'FIGHT' FOR RIGHTS?
How does MTUC fight against violations of worker/trade union rights, promote and struggle for worker/trade union rights? Well, the Secretrary General says that '...MTUC being the umbrella body - from time to time, we raise all the workers’ challenges, as well as issues to the government’s attention...' So, they raise - not struggle for or fight for ...raising is simple, just sent a letter/memo..
Has MTUC lost the will to fight, not alone, but in solidarity with all workers, and with the support of all Malaysians? Since 1998, Malaysians have become brave enough to take to the streets in tens of thousands to express themselves and demand rights - but alas to date, even though there are a lot of worker/union issues, MTUC or the Unions have yet to call for any mass protest. Is this an indication of the state of Unions in Malaysia? the state of the Labour movement?
WORKERS NEED TO KNOW MALAYSIAN LABOUR MOVEMENT HISTORY
HISTORY - Clearly, MTUC secretary-general N Gopal Kishnam is not even clear about the history of Malaysian Trade Union movement, when he says,..." Pre-independence, there was a general union. But after independence,
the general union was structured in a way that you can only form a union
based on either you are an industry, work or enterprise. So the
government has already divided trade unionism in the country, so they
are divided as such as they are not so united..." He is wrong..
In 1947, the Pan Malayan General Labour Union, which was established in 1946, and later changed its name to Pan Malayan Federation of Trade Unions (PMFTU), boasted a membership of 263,598, and this represented more than half the total workforce in Malaysia. 85 percent of all existing unions were part of the PMFTU...
1940 Trade Union Ordinance (as amended in May 1948) - The stated object in the tile was clear, ``An Enactment for the Registration and Control of Trade Unions''. Its declared purpose was the fostering of ``the right kind of responsible leadership amongst workers and...Here, is when the confined unions to workplace unions, and/or unions of one trade or industry.
On 12 June 1948, the British colonial government finally outlawed PMFTU...Many of the leaders of the labour movement were arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced...with the requirement of registration, and the powers vested in the Registrar of Trade Unions, the government could now eliminate the stronger ‘trouble maker’ trade unionist and trade unions, and break up the labour movement according to sectors/industries – divide and rule.
In January 1949, there only remained 163 registered Trade Unions with a total membership of only 68,814... The Council of Trade Unions was formed and they organized the Conference of Malayan Trade Union Delegates on 27-28 February 1949, and this gave birth to what is now known as the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC).
MTUC emerges as a coalition of the new British colonial 'government approved' unions, but the question remains whether after 60 plus years, after independence, have MTUC and Malaysian Unions broken out of the 'prison' imposed by the British then and our pro-employer government of the day.
A perusal would suggest that they have not - there are still trapped in that 'restricted space' - and worst still is the fact that they are not fighting as a union should for the promotion and defence of worker rights.
They still generally fail to fight for their rights with employers - when rights are violated, they simply file a complaint with the relevant Department, and then battle on in court in battles that can last many years. Employers are happy as workers/unions are not causing them any pressure/distress - and they continue on with their business and profits as usual. [When was the last Strike? - over 30-40 years ago? Why?]
Now, Mr Gopal Kishnam have also raised many good points in this interview - and my comments are focused just on some points that I believe is wrong...
The leadership of Unions and MTUC need to be very careful of what they say - because they represent the over 13 million of workers and all trade unions in Malaysia. Now, Najib and this UMNO-BN government can turn around and tell us that workers and unions in Malaysia all support the TPPA, on the basis of what came out in this interview with the current secretary of MTUC??
If the report conveyed the wrong message - then MTUC needs to come out with a Media Statement clarifying matters...
MTUC looks forward to reforms in labour laws with TPPA
What is the role of unions in Malaysia in safeguarding workers?
You said that all flights from source countries are full, this is based on...?
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