Sunday, November 03, 2019

Ministry explains how amendments benefit workers and unions? WHAT DO YOU SAY?

MTUC yet to explain what exactly is their unhappiness with the amendments to the Industrial Relations Act..

Penang Deputy Chief Minister talks about giving MTUC greater freedom to negotiate with State - Well, that really is up to the State governments - Does Penang have regular consultations with MTUC, other Trade Unions in Penang and workers in Penang?

Biggest problem with MTUC in the past is that workers and trade unions in Malaysia simply do not know what MTUC is fighting for at these National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) meetings - what are they agreeing to...what are they objecting to? MTUC should be TRANSPARENT ...and disclose openly in their website what they are fighting for at the NLAC...maybe even in the EPF/KWSP Board...the SOCSO Board...In Parliament, we can see the minutes the Hansard .. but not in these other meetings? The question then is whether MTUC is fighting for workers...or like 'yellow unions' they are pretending to fight for workers..but in truth it may be a different matter.

MTUC has a website - so they have the means of letting all workers know exactly what they are fighting for. MTUC represents all workers and it is important that they keep all their 'constituents' informed.

Does MTUC have the support of workers in Malaysia - we do not know. But the numbers that attend May Day celebrations are small..The biggest picket/protest by MTUC has been on their protest against the 'Contractor For Labour' where the protests were held in many towns nationwide - they managed to get about 10,000 workers...

Recently, they made clear one objections - they do not want the provision that allows for more than one union at the workplace...(does it also mean they do not want more than one union per sector...per industry..per occupation?) - Well, the reality is that with the old 'restrictive' regime of limiting one union per workplace, per sector/industry/occupation - the number of unionized workers is only about 7% overall, less than 4% in the private sectors - and numbers of unionized workers is not increasing...maybe old unions became lazy and are not actively getting more members...WHY? Maybe they are 'yellow unions'(really may be pro-employer rather than pro-worker)..or maybe they are interested in something else other than organising workers...whatever it is, the new amendment allows for more unions to emerge ...hence workers will have CHOICES - lazy ineffective unions will suffer as workers choose unions that really fight for their rights...We shall see...we shall see..


P. Ramasamy in his article in FMT on 1st November 2019, had called for MTUC to be given greater freedom to engage with state and employers on labour matters and that the existing tripartite mechanism through the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) and technical committees reflects a unilateral decision-making process, with little or no input from labour or MTUC.

It is actually the opposite. To date, in this year alone ten (10) NLAC meetings were held where various labour and industrial relations issues were deliberated mostly in heated tone given the conflicting interests of employers’ and workers’ representatives in the advisory council. Apart from that, for the consultations on the amendment to the Industrial Relations Act 1967 (Act 177), several technical committee meetings were held, namely on 14 January 2019, 13-14 February 2019, 30-31 May 2019 and on 26 August 2019. In all the above technical committee meetings, MTUC (and MEF) representatives were present and they have given their views on each clause that were to be amended or newly introduced.

MTUC had also officially given their written comments on the proposed amendments to Act 177 on 12th January 2019 whereas MEF had also submitted their written comments on 9th January 2019 and subsequently on 25th August 2019.

It is totally unbecoming for anyone to say that MTUC (or MEF) was not consulted for the amendments to Act 177. The ministry has all the records of their attendance in these meetings. While, admittedly the ministry engaged various stakeholders, apart from MTUC and MEF for the amendments to labour legislations, including other workers’ groups, MTUC was never side-lined. To date, MTUC occupies the workers’ seat in NLAC, and MTUC representatives also sit in the technical committees, so in what way are they side-lined?

It is certainly not for this ministry to ascertain whether MTUC is playing a meaningful role in NLAC or otherwise. This is entirely up to the affiliated trade unions of MTUC to evaluate MTUC’s office bearers’ role in NLAC. The ministry would remain independent of MTUC internal affairs. Till now, the ministry is puzzled on which clauses in the Amendment Bill of Act 177, that MTUC is not happy about! There are a total of 35 clauses in the Bill and out of this, at least 18 clauses are particularly benefitting workers, as follows –

i. In order to expedite the process of unfair dismissal cases, the Minister’s power to refer representations on dismissal cases to the Industrial Court is replaced by the Director General for Industrial Relations.

ii. Workers will have the right to be heard and access to justice in the Industrial Court as unresolved cases will be referred directly to the Industrial Court without any filtering process. This has been voiced by MTUC for a very long time and now their wish has been fulfilled.

iii. Workers may be represented by any person of their choice (except lawyers) to represent them during the conciliation process at the Department of Industrial Relations. This clause will assist workers greatly.

iv. Workers under mental disability and not having a guardian may be represented by the next of kin at conciliation proceedings. This is also benefitting the workers.

v. In the event workman dies after filing a case for unfair dismissal, the next-of-kin of the deceased workman may be awarded back-wages or compensation in lieu of reinstatement or both.

vi. To enhance protection to trade union officers, Industrial Court will be empowered to make awards by not confining to the restrictions in the Second Schedule, in the event the dismissal is due to union busting.

vii. Dismissed workman of any statutory authority (that will be listed later by Ministerial Order) will be allowed to file a claim for unfair dismissal at Department of Industrial Relations. Currently, they are not allowed to do so.

viii. To expedite the recognition process, the Minister’s power is replaced by the Director General for Industrial Relations and the recognition process will be under the purview of Department of Industrial Relations only.

ix. To increase workers’ welfare and rights, trade unions now only have to obtain majority support from the workers for recognition purposes.

x. As part of embracing the principles of Freedom of Association and the Right to Organise (ILO Convention No. 87), which is championed by MTUC for decades, the right for workers to join unions of their choice and choose the unions with the best bargaining power for collective bargaining will be given.

xi. For the first time ever, through this amendment, trade unions will be allowed to raise questions of general characters during collective bargaining relating to transfers, employment, termination of services due to redundancy, dismissal and reinstatement and assignment or allocation of work.

xii. To increase trade unions bargaining power in line with international labour standards, a new mechanism on dispute resolution relating to collective bargaining is introduced where reference to Industrial Court will only be made upon consent from employers and workmen except in certain conditions.

xiii. To ensure the rights of workers is protected, Industrial Court will be empowered to award backdated benefits based on merits of each case, without restricting to 6 months.

xiv. To allow any person dissatisfied with an award of the Industrial Court to appeal to the High Court without the need to get prior leave from the Industrial Court. This new mechanism will expedite the process and give substantive rights for the aggrieved parties to appeal on question of fact and question of law.

xv. In line with international labour standards, imprisonment sentence for unlawful pickets and strikes will be removed.

xvi. The First Schedule of the Essential Services is replaced with the new schedule in line with international labour standards.

xvii. To protect workers, Industrial Court is enabled to impose interest on its awards, of at least 8% per annum, or lesser rate as the Court may direct.

xviii. Lastly, Industrial Court will also be able to hear and determine the date of dismissal in the event it is disputed by any parties.

The current amendment to Act 177 which was passed by the Dewan Rakyat on 9 October 2019 should rightfully gain the support of MTUC as this amendment is a move in the right direction towards conformity to international labour standards as always demanded by MTUC in various international platforms.

The ministry would like to ask MTUC to appreciate the far-reaching benefits of the above amendments as listed above. MTUC should be brave enough to tell the ministry which amended clauses or new clauses will be disadvantageous or detrimental to workers and we can deliberate in the next round of amendments to Act 177. This is not the end of it.

Ministry of Human Resources
2 November 2019

Empower MTUC to engage with state, employers, says Ramasamy


Representatives from MTUC and several NGOs hold a peaceful protest over the minimum wage outside Parliament building on Oct 17, 2018. DAP’s P Ramasamy says there is no scope for ‘honest engagement’ with stakeholders in MTUC’s current position. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: DAP’s P Ramasamy today called for the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) to be given greater freedom to engage with the state and employers on labour matters in the country.

While MTUC wants to engage with these stakeholders “in a just and fair manner”, he said, the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) under which the congress falls does not appear to be a suitable platform.

“By limiting the role of MTUC to one of consultation, NLAC has the tendency to push legislations that might not be in the interest of labour.

“MTUC faces difficulty playing a meaningful role in NLAC. There is no honest engagement of labour. Consultation means nothing for the advancement of labour rights,” he said in a statement.
MTUC’s role in labour matters was recently in the spotlight, with the congress accusing Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran of tabling amendments to the Industrial Relations Act (IRA) without consulting the relevant stakeholders.

MTUC secretary-general J Solomon said Kula had unilaterally decided to submit proposed amendments to the IRA, Employment Act and Trades Union Act to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for approval, and that MTUC had been sidelined.

However, Kula maintained that his ministry had held nine NLAC meetings this year, as well as various technical committee meetings since January.

He also said he placed the “utmost importance” on his ministry’s tripartite consultations by conducting such meetings on a monthly basis.

But Ramasamy said the tripartite mechanism seemed “merely a euphemism to hide the unilateral nature of decision-making, with little or no input from labour or MTUC”.

He added that the changes to the IRA had brought only incremental benefits for workers.

“MTUC might be just a labour centre organised under societal registration without the benefits of a labour federation, but it is certainly the labour centre and principal representative of 15 million workers in the country,” he said.

“For unions to play an effective role in the country, there must be a recognition that some fundamental concerns of labour associated with freedom of association and voluntarism must be addressed.” - FMT, 1/11/2019

Proposed labour law amendments meant to destroy unions, claims MTUC

MTUC secretary-general J Solomon likens the proposed changes to the Industrial Relations Act as ‘state-sponsored union busting tactics’.
PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) today compared Putrajaya’s amendments to the Industrial Relations Act 1967 to state-sponsored union busting tactics meant to divide the labour movement as the spat between the congress and the human resources minister continues.

Its secretary-general J Solomon said the amendments tabled by minister M Kula Segaran last month were aimed at “destroying the solidarity of the labour movement”.

He also alleged that they were aimed at denying workers effective union representation in negotiating collective agreements (CA) with employers.

Solomon said Kula had gone ahead with the amendments despite allegedly telling the MTUC president and himself that having more than one union in the same workplace will destroy unions.

“However, he made a complete U-turn and tabled the amendments which, if passed, will enable multiple unions being created at workplaces, leading to chaos and in-fighting among unions and depriving workers of effective bargaining power,” he said in a statement.

Solomon also said that if the amendments are passed, he expects employers and the ministry to actively promote their “preferred unions” at work places.

He claims “friendly NGOs and individuals” will support such a move, adding that this would only render unions unproductive and unable to serve workers effectively.
Solomon criticised Kula’s attempts to justify multiple unions at a workplace as being in line with a convention that allows freedom of association and protection of the right to organise a convention under the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Such reasoning, he said, “defies logic”.
“There are so many restrictions on trade unions in the Industrial Relations Act 1967 which are against the spirit of Convention 87 and have continuously weakened the labour movement over the years,” he said, referring to the said convention.

Solomon said that while Convention 87, or C87, did touch on multiplicity of unions, the ILO has made it clear the governments were free to determine which relevant provisions should be applied based on “needs and suitability”.
He said that despite espousing the amendments as being in line with C87, Kula failed to explain to Parliament why the government has not ratified the ILO convention.
He said that Kula had, a few months ago, told the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) that he will recommend for the government to ratify C87 at the next Cabinet meeting, but till today, they have not heard anything.
“So, we have a situation where the minister says his Industrial Relations Act amendments are in accordance with C87 and yet his ministry does not want to ratify the very same convention. Clearly, something is not right.” - FMT, 3/11/2019

No comments: