Malasia - 10,000 workers denied collective bargaining rights (2012)

On 28 September, the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) submitted a memorandum to the Ministry of Human Resources Malaysia (MOHR) listing and detailing the trade unions’ struggle to achieve collective bargaining rights in nine companies involving more than 10,000 workers. According to the MTUC, as a result of MOHR’s failure and inefficiency, union recognition, which is a prerequisite for collective bargaining rights, remain unresolved for seven years. The MTUC called for a review of the regulations which were often applied to delay and deny unions’ claims for recognition.

Many employers refuse to respond to the Department of Industrial Relations’ (DGIR) and Department of Trade Unions’ (DGTU) request for information on their company’s industrial activity and a list of their employees’ names, despite the 2008 amendments to the Industrial Relations Act 1967, aiming to address numerous weaknesses and resolve recognition claims. In some cases employers even refuse to allow officers from the DGIR and DGTU to enter the company premises.

Furthermore, after the implementing regulations were drawn up, unions were not properly informed about the submission requirements of the new regulations. This, despite the fact that according to the DGIR, the use of the old form invalidates the claim and then unions have to withdraw their claim and wait for six months before filing a new one. This rule is considered illegal by the MTUC.

Many arbitrary rulings from the DGIR invalidated several unions’ claims for recognition. This happened at Renesas Semiconductor (formerly NEC). Despite showing proof of delivery and the company’s confirmation of receipt, the DGIR has ruled that since the union’s claim was hand delivered by the president of the union, it was deemed invalid. The union made four unsuccessful attempts to send the claim by mail. The union subsequently reported to the DGIR that Renesas Semiconductor had refused to accept delivery.

The Electrical Industry Workers’ Union’s claim for recognition at the Formosa Prosonic Manufacturing and Liebherr Appliances companies remained unresolved for nearly four years and the DGIR claimed that it was powerless to do anything.

Finally, the MOHR and the DGIR have imposed a ban on picketing or any form of action to protest against employers’ refusal to accord recognition.

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