MTUC criticises ‘sour grapes’ in labour law reforms

MTUC secretary-general J Solomon.

PETALING JAYA: Statements that run contrary to the good work of Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran and the long-awaited opportunity to improve the rights of workers are driven by malice, a federation of trade unions said today.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general J Solomon says this is an attempt to mislead the public and disrupt the ongoing reform process.

In a statement today, he urged workers to stay united and “ignore sour grapes”.

He was referring to reports yesterday that a coalition of trade union representatives had urged the human resources ministry to make proposed amendments to the Employment Act 1955 public before they are tabled in Parliament.

The Decent Work Working Group (DWWG) said 46 recommendations were submitted in January to the ministry but it had not heard back from them.

Solomon said MTUC disagreed with the statement as this was the first time in 60 years that the ministry was undertaking a review of the labour laws in the country and it had been unexceptionally transparent about what it proposed to do.

It said Kula had even set up tripartite technical committees to deliberate the proposed amendments and the ministry officials were working hard to ensure the final draft is endorsed by the tripartite body — the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) —before it is taken to next level.

“This is an international labour standard process for amendments and trade union leaders are fully aware of this process.

“This process has been the demand of MTUC for many years and we are finally seeing the light of it, with the cooperation of the minister concerned.

“The ministry has also made public the proposed amendments to the Employment Act 1955 and the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 by uploading it on the ministry’s website on Sept 28 and Oct 1 last year respectively, requesting feedback from stakeholders.”

Solomon said following this, MTUC organised several discussions and workshops for its affiliates, with the support of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and other international labour law experts, to respond to these proposed amendments.

“Some of the members from 42 trade unions had participated in these discussions and workshops.

“Recommendations received from affiliates, industrial relations practitioners, lawyers and academicians were discussed and incorporated into the proposed draft amendments and sent to all MTUC affiliates, including some of the 42 unions.”

Solomon said there will be another Labour Law Review workshop from March 12 -14, with observations from the technical committee to be shared with MTUC affiliates, workers and the public at the upcoming Labor Law Review Roadshow.

This roadshow will be held throughout the country, commencing from March 16 in Penang, and will end in April.