Wednesday, August 12, 2020


On 10th August, the Labour Law Reform Coalition(LLRC) submitted a memorandum of Malaysia's Minister of Human Resources - sadly this initiative of a coalition of trade unions and other groups seem to have not gotten media attention, and as such I hereby inform you of the contents of this Memorandum (with came with 2 PDF attachments, which I was unable to cut and paste here). Maybe, if you follow the link below, you may see it.

When trade unions and others submit Memorandums to Ministers and government, it is important that it is TRANSPARENT - and accessible to the public, including workers, in this case. This allows us to know exactly what changes they are demanding - and it also allows for people to respond...indicating agreement or even opposition to some or all recommendations. If people support, then the people can also assert PRESSURE to make sure good reforms and needed changes takes place.

BUT if was 'SECRET', then no one knows what was the demands - and some demands may be 'flawed'.

In sending demands for REFORM for the good of the people(and workers), sending it alone to the Minister concern may not be very effective. Minister may receive it but then do nothing about it. Hence, the importance to also send to maybe all MPs and Senators, and all political parties...and most importantly make it PUBLICLY known.

Hence, why I choose to publish this MEMORANDUM to the Minister







YB Saravanan Murugan

Minister of Human Resources



 At Parliament on 10 August 2020


Since June 2018, Malaysian trade unions and worker organisations have taken initiatives to study labour laws and organised several round of consultation meetings under the name of Decent Work Working Group (DWWG).

The consultation meetings cover various aspect of workers’ concerns in accordance to ILO’s decent work framework – realizing labour rights, encouraging social dialogue, strengthening social protection, and promoting employment.

The campaign garners the support of workers and stakeholders from all walk of life – trade unionists, migrant worker activists, women rights activists, foreign spouses, and refugee activists. 58 trade unions, worker organizations and NGOs endorsed the DWWG.

DWWG submitted the reform proposals of Employment Act 1955 (EA) to the Ministry of Human Resources (MOHR) in January 2019. Subsequently, the reform proposals of Trade Union Act 1959 (TUA) and Industrial Relations Act 1967 (IRA) were submitted to MOHR in April 2019.

In July 2019, the coalition evolved and renamed Labour Law Reform Coalition (LLRC) to better reflect the objective of the movement. The coalition continued to engage with MOHR in several consultation meetings.

Although Industrial Relations (amendment) Act 2020 which passed in the parliament did not include all LLRC’s reform proposals, we support the incremental changes and urged the government to implement the reforms immediately.

LLRC also criticized certain quarter’s call for 10-year moratorium of ratification of ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association in September 2020. We urged the government to ratify the Convention 87 as soon as possible without conditions.


The Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) 2018 Annual Report has shown that Malaysian workers were paid only one-third in contrast with selected benchmarked economies. A Malaysian worker received only US$340 when his or her productivity is US$1,000.

BNM also recommended that Malaysian labour laws must be revamped to allow freedom of association, elimination of forced labour and discrimination. Undoubtedly, these measures will strengthen the bargaining power of Malaysian workers and fight for fairer share of enterprise profits.

In March 2020, the newly-minted Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has reaffirmed the new government’s commitment to implement the Shared Prosperity Vision (SPV) 2020 to close the economic gap in the society.

It is crucial to note that the primary aim of Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 is to providing a decent standard of living to all Malaysians, one of the key indicators is to increase compensation of employees per GDP (CE) from 35.7% in 2018 to 48% by 2030.

The CE indicator is of paramount importance as it reflects that when an enterprise earns 1 Malaysian Ringgit, only 35.7 cent goes to employees, the remaining goes to employers and the government. In a more economically just society, employees usually get about half of the CE, for instance German employees get 51.5 cent and United Kingdom employees get 49.4 cent.

We wholeheartedly support the target of 48% CE because it is doing justice for Malaysian workers who have been underpaid for decades.

Thus, we wish the labour law reforms process can be speed up to remove various restrictions imposed since colonial period, enabling Malaysian workers to freely organize into trade unions and collectively bargain with employers.

Our Recommendations

 LLRC hereby re-iterates our demands relating to labour law reforms and workers’ rights as follows :

1.    Immediate implementation of Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2020

LLRC notes that Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2020 received royal assent on 6 February 2020 and gazetted on 20 February 2020. However, to our understanding, the new Act has yet to be implemented.

We heard that some labour groups are lobbying the government to delay implementation of the Act. If this is true, then such lobbying effort is against democratic process and disrespect of parliamentary decision.

We hope MOHR can clarify whether it is true. We urge MOHR to implement the IRA 2020 immediately.

2.    Immediate enactment of new formula on secret ballot

During our meetings with MOHR officials in 2019, LLRC has repeatedly raised the issue of problematic secret ballot formula that makes seeking recognition extremely difficult for trade unions.

The current secret ballot formula requires trade unions to obtain 50 percent plus 1 support from workers at a workplace. We have been arguing that the formula is utterly unfair because Malaysian election result is based on majority by vote cast, not by total number of voters in a constituency.

By the time, MOHR officials have promised that the secret ballot formula will be revised in accordance to majority by vote cast as soon as the new IRA is enacted.

Hence, we urge MOHR to immediately revise the secret ballot formula to facilitate union organizing. It is impossible to achieve the target of 48 percent

Compensation of Employees by 2030 if union density remains low and workers lack of bargaining power. 

3.    Reform Trade Union Act in accordance to our proposals

We hereby resubmit our reform proposals on Trade Union Act (Appendix 1)

The key recommendations of TUA are :

a)    DG’s power should be restricted as the a registrar to register trade union and execute other administrative orders (section 3(1))

b)    Registration of trade union within 30 days (section 12(1))

c)    Suspension of trade union should refer to the court (section 17)

d)    Amend provision on strike so workers can reclaim right to strike (section 25A)

e)    Penalty for “Illegal” Strike Should not be Increased

f)     Competency Check falls under Industrial Relations Act (section 26(4))

g)    Respect public servants’ right to organise (section 27)

h)   Non-citizens can become union official after legally employed for 1 year (section 28)

i)     Lower the threshold of amalgamation of Trade Union (section 32)

j)      Affiliation through General Meeting (section 40 & 76)

4.    Reform Employment Act in accordance to our proposals

We hereby resubmit our reform proposals on Employment Act. (Appendix 2)


The key recommendations of EA are :

a)    Employment Act should cover all local and migrant workers, foreign spouses of Malaysians and refugees who work

b)    Reduce hour of work per week to 40 hours

c)    98 days paid maternity leave and at least 7 day paid paternity leave

d)    Contractor for labour provision in EA should be repealled to minimize precarious work

e)    Any form of discrimination must be prohibited

f)     All code of conducts must be fully enforced to curb sexual harassment

g)    Enforce labour laws to protect migrant workers from exploitation


5.    Ratification of ILO Convention 87, 105, 111, 183, 189 and 190

LLRC calls on the government to ratify the following ILO conventions, particularly Convention 87 on Freedom of Association to facilitate union organizing :

a)    Convention 87 - Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention

b)    Convention 105 - Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (Noted : Malaysian government denounced in 1990)

 c)    Convention 111 - Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention

d)    Convention 183 - Maternity Protection Convention

e)    Convention 189 - Domestic Workers Convention

f)     Convention 190 - Violence and Harassment Convention


6.    Make public the cabinet-level migrant worker report

We urge the government to make public the report of special committee on foreign worker management headed by former Court of Appeal judge Hishamuddin Yunus.

Civil society has been calling the government to make public the report and implement the recommendations to protect the rights of migrant workers and foreign domestic workers. However, the former government has refused to reveal it.

7.    Right to redress of migrant and domestic workers

LLRC is of the view that the government should strengthen its mechanism to guarantee right to redress of migrant and domestic rights. Many news reports have shockingly revealed murder, tortures, and cheating of migrant and domestic workers. The government should take active steps to address the abuses, including frequent labour inspection.

We urge MOHR to organize stakeholder meetings with migrant worker and domestic workers organization to understand their concerns.


Contact us

N. Gopalkishnam, General Secretary, National Union of Transport Equipment And Allied Industries Workers (NUTEAIW).

Address : 30 A, Jalan Utas A, Section 15, Shah Alam, 40000, Shah Alam, Selangor Mobile : 019-3174717

Office Tel : 03-5519 2421

Facebook :










No comments: