Didn’t you oppose convention on freedom of association, ministry asks MTUC

The Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, 1948 (C87) convention deals with the fundamental freedom of association of all workers, including migrants.

PETALING JAYA: The human resources ministry today called out the Malaysian Trades Unions Congress (MTUC) for wanting to seek help from the United Nations to ratify an international convention which the union had previously opposed.

Yesterday, MTUC said it had asked the United Nations global labour centre to push Putrajaya to ratify the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, 1948 (C87).

The convention deals with the fundamental freedom of association of all workers, including migrants.

Ratifying C87, MTUC secretary-general J Solomon said, will be most crucial as it would allow migrant workers to join unions of their choice and prevent their exploitation.

But today, the human resources ministry said MTUC had previously rejected the principle of C87 on the freedom to organise trade unions as this could lead to a multiplicity of unions in the workplace.

“MTUC cannot be selective by asking the government to ratify C87 while they themselves are objecting to this principle that defines the very foundation of C87,” it said in a statement.

It added that ratification of any convention means adherence to all principles of the convention.

The ministry went on to say that it had proposed amendments to both the Trade Union Act 1959 and the Industrial Relations Act 1967, based on the principles of C87.

It also said it conducted extensive engagement with stakeholders on labour law reforms.

In fact, the ministry revealed, with the help of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Kuala Lumpur, it had acquired the services of an expert on C87 from Geneva to explain and help in the adoption of the principles of C87.

And while these proposed amendments would still need approval from the government, the ministry said that MTUC wanted a moratorium of 10 years before the amendments could be enforced.

“The ministry then had to abandon the draft and continued with the necessary amendments to both the acts, without the principles of C87.”