‘Wrongfully’ sacked workers union president turns to Suhakam for help

suhakam-sackedKUALA LUMPUR: A former employee of an electronics company in Malacca, who is also president of the workers union, filed a complaint of wrongful termination with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) here.

Muhammad Zulfadly Thye Abdullah, who was a senior technician analyst at the company, claimed he was dismissed for “committing the act of malingering”, or feigning illness to avoid going to work.

He said despite his dismissal, he remained the president of the union. He claimed he was prevented from carrying out his duties as the union president after his dismissal.

Zulfadly said he had been employed at the company since 1998, and the president of the workers union since 2005

Human rights lawyer Charles Hector, who brought the case to the attention of  Suhakam, said the company’s charge against Zulfadly was “defective”.

“According to the company policy, malingering is not a form of misconduct that can lead to termination,” he said.

Zulfadly stated in his memorandum that he was sacked on Dec 13 last year. He said he had obtained a medical certificate (MC) from the company panel clinic on Oct 18 for back pain, followed by another MC for the next three days, after being diagnosed with kidney stones.

However, the company found out that he had attended a union event in Putrajaya when he was on medical leave on Oct 18.

Zulfadly was charged with skipping work and subjected to a domestic inquiry. He was dismissed on Dec 13.

“I replied to the company that my decision to go to the union event was a last-minute one.

“It was a short event and I took the bus instead of driving there because of my back pain,” he said.

After he was sacked, Zulfadly claimed he was barred from carrying out his duties as the union president.

“I could not enter the union office in the factory compound and I was not allowed to perform my duty of negotiating over the collective agreement for the workers’ working shifts.”

He claimed the company had sacked him to prevent him from fighting for the workers’ rights.

“The Industrial Relations Act guarantees the right of workers to participate in unions.

“Even though I have been terminated from my job, I am still the president of the union, elected by fellow members.”

Suhakam commissioner Lok Yim Pheng, who heard the complaint, expressed sympathy with Zulfadly’s plight.

“I share a union background and I will be with you in this fight for workers’ rights,” said Loke, who is the former secretary-general of the National Union of the Teaching Profession.

She promised to look into Zulfadly’s complaint and make the appropriate recommendations to the government.

“Suhakam will put an end to this.”

Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud, who is former president of Malaysia Trade Union Congress, was also present.