Sunday, November 05, 2017

Construction Employees Union silence after death of 11 construction workers disturbing?

National, State and Regional Unions can be said to be guilty of 'Union Busting' or being anti-worker in Malaysia. Now, Malaysian labour laws only allows for ONE such National/State/Regional Union for a particular sector/industry/occupation.

But do these National/State/Regional Union (say the one representing Electronic Workers), even have at the very least one or several union members in every Electronic factories in their region? 

What is the percentage of the factories in their respective area (be it national/state/regional) do these union even have members? In how many of these factories are they even doing 'organizing' work to get more members ...and eventually more than 50% to enable them to get recognition from employers, a condition they need to satisfy before they can enter into Collective Bargaining Agreements and the union can bring trade disputes with employer to the government. 

REMEMBER a union who has still not got recognition can still do quite a lot for its membership....They can provide education/training about worker rights and what to do when rights are violated. They can provide advice... they can even highlight wrongdoings happening in factories where they still may not have obtained recognition. They can even bring to the notice of the relevant authorities wrongdoings and rights violation (noting that many a worker victim are simply afraid to do this for fear of their jobs and promotion prospects.) They can have actions to build up solidarity, and even leadership amongst workers...They can also provide mutual support... there is so much that can be done...

11 construction workers died in Penang, following a landslide that affected the site and brought about the death of workers in the construction industry...

Is there no union representing CONSTRUCTION WORKERS - Well, there is and it is known as the   Union Of Employees in the Construction Industry and it a member of the Malaysian Trade Union Congress(MTUC)

Well, what did it  say or do when 11 employees of the Construction Industry died in Penang recently ....Well, I 'googled' and saw NO news reports at all.. So this National Union is not at all speaking up for construction employees at all...and because this Union exist, other contruction employees cannot even form a National Union for workers in the construction industry? 

The nature of the construction industry makes it not practical for 'in-house unions' - and as such, they need a National, State level or even Regional Union...

The current union is SILENT despite there being so many issues in the Construction Industry ...

MTUC is a 'society' of Unions, and that does not mean all other National/State/Regional Unions DO NOTHING ...OR NOT SPEAK UP ...especially for workers in the sector/industry/occupation they claim to represent? Being a member of MTUC is NO EXCUSE for not speaking up on issues concerning workers in your particular sector/industry/occupation...

Should we be calling for the immediate resignation of the leadership of this Union of Employees in the Construction Industry - are they even looking for new members - or are they not interested in any 'new' members - just happy to with their present numbers...who will continue supporting current leaders stay in power. When you are a NATIONAL Union, you are responsible to the well being and welfare of all workers in that particular sector/industry/occupation...irrespective of whether they are members of your Union or not...?

WHY IS THIS UNION SILENT? Have they been 'compromised' by Construction Industry bosses? Are they a 'YELLOW" Union? 

In Malaysia, we do not see many of these National/State/Regional Unions speaking up and doing things for employees/workers that should have already been members of these Unions...

Maybe time to abolish all such National Unions ...OR remove the legal barrier that says only ONE - and let more National/State/Regional Unions to exist - Competition between unions for membership would be good for workers...and it may make these current Unions wake up and do more...

Rising number of in-house unions may be said to be because of the failures of these National/State/Regional Unions - who are failing to reach out and organize workers...

Information about these National/State/Regional Unions are also not easily available - let alone how to contact them. In this modern day and age of the internet, it is so easy to get a BLOG or a website - which people can find these information...but why are the National/State/Regional Unions 'hiding'? Even if we go to the MTUC website - only names of union members(but no contact details)...Well, the government Ministry and Departments also do not publish the list of Unions, their address/contact details....So, how do you expect workers to even on their own contact these National/State/Regional Unions?

Are some of these Unions behaving like some political parties - no interest in getting more members in - well, then the risk of challenge by 'new' members for leadership position in later years - so, best solution keep the 'status quo'?  Is that why the same persons have been Union leaders for the past 10...20...30 years? 

In some political parties in Malaysia, it is rather difficult to join a particular Branch - Why? New members can become a challenge to existing leaders. Some leaders may have taken great effort to make sure the majority of the members in their branches will not be persons who will question too much...or challenge their 'authority'? Is the same thing happening to some of the Unions in Malaysia? Even the MTUC have been rejecting applications by Unions to become members - an example is NUFAM(hopefully now NUFAM has become a member)

The present state of the National/State/Regional Unions make employers and even pro-employer governments very happy...They are also very happy that the leadership in many of these unions are 'weak', silent and not actively/effectively fighting for better worker and trade union rights. The silence of the Union Of Employees in the Construction Industry when 11 workers in the construction industry died recently is an example...Did the Union leaders even visit the site, or get in touch with the family of these workers who died...

Well, MTUC (but not Union Of Employees in the Construction Industry) has made a call that compensation be made to the families of these workers - that is something anyone or any group can do, ...but the question is whether MTUC (or Union Of Employees in the Construction Industry) are doing more and helping make sure that compensation is paid ...will the Unions be willing to take up a case demanding the Employer (or more likely the Penang Government or the Federal Government) will pay them compensation...? Did the Unions help with the funeral arrangements? Are they in touch with the next of kin of these workers? As most were migrant workers, I am sure that their families/next of kin will need much help in Malaysia to ensure justice be done - is MTUC or Union Of Employees in the Construction Industry) helping? 


Developer urged to compensate families of landslide victims

27 October 2017 Print page

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress and the Association of Construction Occupational Safety and Health say this is developer’s primary obligation.
PETALING JAYA: The developer of an affordable housing condo project in Tanjung Bungah, Penang has been urged to compensate the families of Saturday’s landslide victims, as the blatant disregard for the workers’ safety was unacceptable.
The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) and the Association of Construction Occupational Safety and Health (ACOSH) made this call in a joint statement today.
MTUC secretary-general J Solomon and ACOSH president K Balakrishnan said, “Workers at all construction sites have no control over the safety measures implemented and leave their safety in the hands of those in charge of the projects.”
They said that for this reason alone, the developer needed to come forth with a monetary compensation plan that would adequately support their respective dependents in place of income lost.
The duo also said this should be the primary obligation of the developer regardless of the findings of the Penang State Commission of Inquiry (SCI), the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH).
MTUC and ACOSH were upset by the lack of oversight by governing bodies to ensure that health and safety measures were adhered to at construction sites where the risk of fatal and non-fatal accidents was fairly high.
Solomon and Balakrishnan said with a thriving construction industry in the country, there should already be an effective monitoring mechanism operational nationwide that would ensure recommended measures for the occupational safety and health (OSH) of workers were adhered to.
“The construction site was a deadly accident waiting to happen. They had only placed plastic sheets to protect and prevent the cut slopes from caving into the construction site.
“Based on photos and videos of the construction site and judging from its distance from the quarry, the frequency of its activities, the lack of OSH measures taken, this incident was highly predictable,” they said, adding that it was highly unlawful if an environmental impact assessment (EIA) was not carried out before work commenced at a hillslope site.
They explained that the presence of a safety officer round the clock was a regulatory requirement in any development worth more than RM20 million.
The duo said it was very evident that those involved were flouting DOSH recommendations and safety measures to retain the slope.
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) had also said that compensation for loss of life should be immediately made available to the families of the Penang landslide victims.
Last Saturday’s deadly landslide killed 11 people. It was initially reported that the construction site where the landslide occurred was on a hillslope.
However, authorities later clarified that the project was on flat land and the landslide had occurred from an adjacent slope.
The natural resources and environment ministry, which oversees the Department of Environment (DoE), claimed it had “rejected” the condo housing project, where the landslide occurred, as it was too close to a granite quarry.
However, Penang Island City Council (MBPP) Mayor Maimunah Mohd Sharif said that despite the DoE’s objection, the Mineral and Geoscience Department (JMG) had given the project the go-ahead on Dec 30, 2014.
JMG regulates quarries and deals with hillslope stability-related matters, Maimunah said.
Today, the Penang government announced the proposed setting-up of the SCI on the landslide.
In a nutshell, the SCI will determine what caused the temporary worksite slope to collapse and decide if it was a worksite accident, among others.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the SCI had three months to present their findings and complete a report.
“I will present this proposal to Governor Abdul Rahman Abbas for his assent and will later gazette it. The commencement date will be made known later,” he had said in a press conference in Komtar.
Solomon and Balakrishnan said the construction industry charted the highest number of fatalities last year with 91 deaths and DOSH needed to grow its manpower to beef up its onsite inspections at a higher frequency.
They explained that the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) 1994 allowed for contractors to be self-regulated but this had not reduced the number of accidents occurring in construction sites.
“Therefore, all relevant authorities, including the DOSH, DOE, CIDB and local authorities need to implement stringent guidelines for developers and contractors to comply with, to avoid similar eventualities.”

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