The Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress understands that, in tabling amendments to the Employment Act 1955 in Parliament, the human resources minister is supposed to have credited it to the need to ratify the Comprehensive And Progressive Agreement For Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade agreement involving 11 countries.
Without venturing into the convincing arguments against Malaysia ratifying this trade pact, what we ask is simply this – isn’t it the primary responsibility of the government to embark on a progressive transformation of the employment related ecosystem of our working population without it being dictated by the CPTPP?
To credit transformation of our archaic labour legislation to the CPTPP signals either of two circumstances:
- the government has failed to appreciate the sacrifices of workers on its own accord
- the government, in the overwhelming interest of the business class, is prepared to make concessions just to the create an impression that it has the will to confirm with internationally accepted labour standards.
In either of these circumstances, it remains true that the government will only deliver, not of its own free will but when whipped by compelling external forces!
Penang MTUC believes that the Ministry of Human Resources Ministry ought to adopt a proactive approach in bringing about much needed progressive changes to the prevailing pro-capital labour laws.
If the government has the political will to create a vibrant workers’ movement in the country, it ought to subscribe to the core conventions of internationally accepted labour standards.
To amend the labour laws as dictated by the CPTPP partnership is not only nonsensical but also an act of abdicating our sovereignty as a nation.
K Veeriah is secretary of the Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress