Labour law reform group hits out at ‘authoritarian’ MTUC leaders

Labour Law Reform Coalition co-chairman N Gopal Kishnam says it is unfortunate that these authoritarian leaders are holding MTUC ransom while Malaysian workers eagerly expect their leaders to push for pro-labour legislation. (MTUC pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Labour Law Reform Coalition (LLRC) today hit out at the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) after top leaders of the union met members of the National Senate Council last week in a bid to stop the Labour Laws Reform (LLR) Bill.

LLRC co-chairman N Gopal Kishnam slammed MTUC secretary-general J Solomon and president Abdul Halim Mansor for their actions, saying these were “illegitimate” as they were not decided upon by the MTUC general council.

The LLRC is endorsed by 58 trade unions from various sectors and worker organisations in the peninsula. It began in 2018 to initiate discussions on labour law reforms, based on the International Labour Organisation’s work framework.

Kishnam called for an MTUC general council meeting to be held immediately to resolve conflicts in the labour movement, highlighting that no such meeting has taken place since 2016.

“It is very unfortunate that these authoritarian leaders are holding MTUC to ransom while Malaysian workers eagerly expect their leaders to push for pro-labour legislation.

“Solomon and Halim are engaged in endless disputes with the human resources minister and attempting to defeat the Industrial Relations Bill 2019 at the Senate.

“These arbitrary actions are again made without the sanction of the MTUC general council,” he said in a statement today.

Kishnam said general council meetings are supposed to be held every two months at the very least.

Kishnam said the trade union’s community should work with the ministry in pushing for changes in the nation’s labour laws, reiterating that Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran had already promised further amendments in the Industrial Relations Act (IRA).

“We feel painful to make public criticism against the organisation that is collectively built by the trade union community in the country.

“As the internal channel for raising concerns and dissatisfaction is blocked, MTUC affiliates have no choice but to go public to express dissent and defend their honour.”

MTUC’s Sarawak chapter had previously accused Halim and Solomon of imposing their views on members and demanding a consensus before amendments to labour laws are enacted.

Sarawak MTUC secretary Andrew Lo said Halim and Solomon, who disagreed with the IRA amendments, should lobby the government for improvements instead of totally rejecting them.

This followed the war of words between MTUC and the human resources ministry over amendments to the IRA 1967, Employment Act 1955 and Trade Unions Act 1959.

The labour law reforms are being carried out through tripartite consultations, involving MTUC, the Malaysian Employers Federation and ministry officials.