The Labour Law Reform Coalition welcomes the passage of the Trade Union Amendment Bill in the House of Representatives on 5 October, which contains numerous positive changes including freedom of association, removal of imprisonment term and the decrease of the threshold for a strike ballot.
However, we would like to express our strongest reservation on the fourth schedule and its related provisions. These regressive changes give the director general power to deregister a union if it wages war against the state or is involved in acts detrimental to parliamentary democracy, terrorism or organised crime.
We have engaged the Ministry of Human Resources and have repeated our demands several times. We regret that the intimidating provisions were retained on the grounds of preventing trade unions from abusing their power. This shows the government still sees trade unions as a security threat rather than a responsible social partner.
LLRC will continue its advocacy and campaigns against undemocratic elements in the labour laws, for instance the fourth schedule in the Trade Union Amendment Bill, the secret ballot formula for union recognition in the Industrial Relations Regulation, and the reform of Sabah and Sarawak labour ordinances. The struggle continues in accordance with our principles and our solidarity with all workers, formal and informal.
In addition, we urge trade unions to create a concrete capacity building programme for national leadership and worksite committee members. This aims to strengthen unionists’ capacity in organising and to prepare them for the challenges to come in the near future.
Let’s work hand in hand to build a stronger, dynamic and progressive labour movement in Malaysia.
N Gopal Kishnam and Irene Xavier are co-chairpersons of the Labour Law Reform Coalition
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