14th March 2013, about 85 workers and electronic union members representing various factories across Malaysia have staged a protest in front of the Human Resource Ministry building at Putrajaya. These workers came with banners and pickets to urge the Ministry to punish the employers who are involved in union busting and are failing to comply with the labour law of Malaysia.
Since the registration of Electronic Workers Union in the four regions (West, South, North and East of Malaysia) back in 2010, it was subject to numerous attacks by employers in many factories. Many electronic companies have tried to destroy the union by not recognizing them as a representative of the electronic workers. These companies continued to disobey the law and get much exclusivity to act outside the given law. The labor law has been broken and ridiculed countless times by these wealthy factory owners and shareholders. Among the attacks that had been undertaken by these irresponsible employers are:
- Forming an in-house union fully funded and controlled by the management of the company and recognizing this in-house union as the sole representative of the workers.
- Refusing to attend any of the unions meetings and refusal of handing over the workers list.
- Practice ‘union busting’ by sacking the union leaders. Threatened other union members of retrenchment and delaying the process of meeting the workers demand.
- Changing the status of the workers to disqualify them to join union and use various threats to discourage the workers to join the union.
The weakness of the Malaysian Industrial Relations Act 1967 and the natural alliance by the employer and the government with the pro-capitalist policies is the main cause of the problems faced by the union. Among them :
- The procedure needed to submit the recognition notice by the union to the employer is very technical. Time limit for the unions are tight and restricted while the time limit for a response from the employers are loose and flexible.
- No actions are taken against the companies that do not follow the procedures as per law. The companies have the power to delay the recognition process as much as they want.
- As per Malaysian law, a union recognition is attained by 51% of the workers support and joins as a member. To achieve this, a voting is arranged in all of the workplace of these workers. However, the companies undermining the voting process by threats and sabotage, and the Labor Department officer would not use their power to question or stop the employers’ actions.
CWI Malaysia has undertaken this issue to campaign and appeal to all workers and trade union movements to stand in solidarity with these Electronic Workers Union and its workers. CWI Malaysia support the following demands of the workers :
- Human resource Ministry should be more efficient in investigating labour cases and offer a proper guideline which is simple and not technical. Freedom of access to labour law information to all workers.
- Companies that do not follow the law or delay the procedure to recognize the registered union must be penalized.
- Employer funded and controlled in-house unions should not be the main representative of the employees. An independent worker based unions should be given recognition as the representative of the employees.
- Employers who practice union busting by sacking the leaders who are initiating an union should be penalized and Human Resource Ministry’s swift intervention is necessary.
- All workers including contract, foreign, outsourced or part time workers should be given the right to join a Union and to defend their rights from exploitative employers.