PSM: MTUC is ignorant and weak

TPPAPETALING JAYA: PSM today slammed the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) for “taking the short cut”, labelling it “ignorant and weak”.

In an interview with Malaysiakini, MTUC Secretary-General N Gopal Kishnam had said the union welcomed the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), and was open to labour law reforms within the TPPA.

PSM Secretary-General A Sivarajan said: “Gopal’s comments, unfortunately, are typical of a career unionist who has bottled himself into trade union issues only. Does he not realise all those labour reforms can be executed by the Malaysian government even without the TPPA?

“It’s only a matter of political will. If only the MTUC persistently campaigned and struggled for those reforms,” Sivarajan said in a statement today.

He added that the views of the MTUC only made it “weak”, and showed it was unwilling to “fight for workers”.

“TPPA is an attack on workers. Trade liberalisation will cause job losses when local SMEs are unable to compete with tariff- free imports.

“So, what benefit will better labour laws serve when the workers don’t even have a job?” he said.

In the past, PSM had said the United States had given Malaysian workers “an offer we cannot refuse” by forcing the Malaysian government to comply with many of the demands of unions and civil society organisations. However, it warned that this could come at the cost of jobs.

“The Labour Chapter is the sugar coating on the bitter medicine that we are about to swallow,” Sivarajan had said.

He had said the SME Business Association had forecast that nearly 30 per cent of the registered 650,000 small and medium-scale enterprises in Malaysia would be out of business in two years’ time if the TPPA were to be signed.

Despite opposition from various stakeholders against the TPPA, it was signed in New Zealand on Feb 4 this year after going through the negotiation process since 2010. The trade pact is expected to take effect in 2018.

Malaysia is one of the signatories, apart from the US, Brunei, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Chile, Peru and Mexico.