4 – Systematic violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Malaysia

The ITUC affiliate in Malaysia is the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC).

In practice

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Timber company interferes to derail union ballot 02-06-2020

The Timber Industry Employees Union of Sarawak (TIEUS) issued a statement on 23 August 2019 stating that the Shin Yang Group had instructed workers not to take part in a secret ballot on 25 August. The ballot was being held to decide whether the workers were in favour of forming a union.

The workers were employed by timber company Zedtee Plywood Sdn Bhd, a logging company based in Sarawak, part of the Shin Yang group that was already infamous for causing environmental devastation and for its disregard for human rights.

Zedtee conducted a string of meetings with workers who were eligible to vote in the secret ballot elections, instructing them not to vote, reported TIEUS president Agat Sagai. He explained that the majority of the company’s 1,000 workers were migrants, and as their immigration status was tied to their employment, they did not feel like they could afford to speak out or vote against the company. It was, he pointed out, a clear violation of the right to freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
.

The company began the meetings after seeing a Facebook post in which the union had held an out-of-work-hours activity educating Zedtee workers about their rights as workers and how to participate in the union election.

 A Zedtee Plywood worker, who declined to be named fearing management reprisal, said workers were “briefed” daily not to attend the secret ballot, let alone vote. He said the briefings were conducted by factory manager Chan Souh Teng; production manager Mr Hwan; and engineering manager Lau Sie Kuk. He said the names of those eligible to vote had been posted on their factory notice board and he had seen familiar names of workers who had already resigned from the factory on that list.

HSBC violates collective agreement provisions21-10-2019

Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Corporation Malaysia is legally bound by collective agreements with the MTUC-affiliated bank federation, NUBE, and the sectoral agreement with the Malayan

Commercial Banks Association (MCBA) to consult the trade union on employment matters, including outsourcing outsourcing See contracting-out .

A new collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
agreement (CBA) was signed in 2019 after a lapse of three years as a result of the bank’s procrastination and tactics to dilute several benefits provided for in the sectoral agreement. The company further refused to honour the ONE HSBC Outsourcing outsourcing See contracting-out and Restructuring Agreement signed with NUBE in 2010; the Agreement lays out the consultation procedure pertaining to the sectoral agreement on outsourcing outsourcing See contracting-out and retrenchment matters.

The Employment Act 1955 mandates that the employer submit a retrenchment notification form 30 days in advance of implementing the Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS). The Code of Conduct for Industrial Harmony between the Ministry of Human Resources, the Malaysian Council of Employers’ Organisations and the MTUC provides for consultation with the trade union before making retrenchment decisions. The bank has ignored these legal obligations.

In a bid to promote the VSS, more than 500 customer service bankers were retrenched while the jobs were later found by NUBE to have been outsourced to Malaysian vendors owned by HSBC in the UK as well as service providers in India and Sri Lanka.

On 21 October 2019, the Industrial Court, based on a procedural point that the ONE HSBC Agreement had not been registered, turned down NUBE’s request for an injunction injunction A court order prohibiting or preventing a certain course of action, such as calling or continuing with a strike. order to stop the implementation of VSS, which the union claimed violated the Agreement. Since the union picket staged in 2018, cases of anti-union dismissals of union leaders and shop stewards have been pending. Nineteen members have received warning letters threatening them against joining union activities. The company has been refusing to attend mediation mediation A process halfway between conciliation and arbitration, in mediation a neutral third party assists the disputing parties in reaching a settlement to an industrial dispute by suggesting possible, non-binding solutions.

See arbitration, conciliation
meetings to resolve the issues.

Union busting at healthcare company17-02-2019

Union members demonstrated outside the headquarters of Edgenta Mediserve Sdn Bhd in Ipoh on 17 May 2019, protesting that the healthcare company’s senior executives had issued threats against workers who were members of the National Union of Workers in Hospital Support and Allied Services (NUWHSAS).

The protesters accused the company of union busting union busting Attempts by an employer to prevent the establishment of a trade union or remove an existing union, e.g. by firing union members, challenging unions in court, or by forming a yellow union. by its having threatened to take disciplinary action against staff who had been involved in union activities. “Some of our members had been threatened they would be removed from their job if they continue to be active,” said the union’s executive secretary, M. Sarasvathy.

She explained that harassment started in 2017 when the union asked to negotiate a collective agreement for workers with the company. In September 2018, the company’s subsidiary signed an agreement with the union, allowing its members to cast their votes from September to November according to a designated time and place. “However, some of the company’s supervisors threatened the staff not to cast votes or face the consequences,” she said. Sarasvathy further alleged that the workers were also bullied and transferred from one section to the other, while those who wanted to attend Labour Day events were told not to do so or they would be sacked.

“We have sent complaint letters to the company and the Human Resources Ministry, and even lodged 15 police reports, but to no avail.”

Unions work together to propose amendments to Malaysia’s Employment Act 195516-01-2019

On 13 January 2019, a consultation meeting was held with more than 60 participants from 31 national unions, two international union peak bodies, NGOS and the Malaysian Trade Union Congress to discuss the Malaysian government’s plan to amend the Employment Act 1955. A first consultation meeting, also organised by IndustriALL, was held on 9 December 2018 during which issues such as parental leave, maximum weekly working hours and improving retirement benefits were discussed.
Among key amendments discussed at the 13 January meeting were an increase to freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
and collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
rights, with a particular focus on strengthening the statutory provisions regarding the formation and registration of trade unions and recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. of collective agreements.
The working group is also proposing further amendments that reduce the ability of the government to deregister or suspend unions, requiring that any such decision must be referred to a court. The proposed amendments will also include a prohibition on restricting strikes or declaring a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
unlawful or invalid.
The meeting, which was officiated by Datuk Abdul Halim Mansor, president of MTUC and moderated by Bruno Periera and Gopal Kishnam, will submit its proposed amendments to the Minister ahead of its scheduled tabling in March 2019.

Timber union workers win secret ballot despite obstruction attempts by employer29-10-2018

An overwhelming majority (72.33 per cent) of members of the Sabah Timber Employees Union (STIEU) at Sabah Forest Industries (SFI) in Sipitang, Malaysia, voted to form a union via a secret ballot election on 29 October 2018. SFI has a long history of obstructing its workers from forming a trade union on its premises, and had refused to allow workers to conduct the ballot on site or during work hours. The secret ballot was held on the premises of a nearby school, with workers voting during their lunch break.
This ballot victory comes after many attempts by SFI over previous years to prevent its workers from forming a union, using lengthy and expensive judicial review procedures. In October 2017 SFI’s appeal to the Kota Kinabalu Federal Court was dismissed; however, the Court’s failure to provide a written copy of the decision was further used to prevent the secret ballot process from proceeding until the new human resources minister, M Kula Segaran, intervened.
The successful ballot will enable the workers at Sipitang to begin collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
.

200 HSBC employees picket over non-compliance with the collective agreement21-09-2018

About 200 members of the National Union of Banking Employees (NUBE) gathered outside the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd (HSBC) headquarters in Leboh Ampang to protest against the failure of the management to honour its agreement.
Nube secretary-general J. Solomon said the employees deserved what they were promised and it was an injustice to deny or cut the perks they were entitled to under a collective agreement signed between the bank and the union. Instead, HSBC had opted to “shortchange” and intimidate employees so that they would resign without compensation.
He said, although it was a longstanding problem, the situation had worsened with the appointment of a new chief executive officer in April. Since then, he said, there had been a further tightening on employee benefits.
He added that union members were disappointed that an international bank like HSBC was treating its employees so shabbily. ”We are not asking for something that is not in the agreement. We are just asking them to honour the collective agreement. We have proposed dialogues, but even that has been shot down.”
The old collective agreement had lapsed for more than a year, but HSBC has yet to meet union officials to discuss its renewal.
“The union also found out that the company, under the name of restructuring exercise, had outsourced employees’ duties to an outside firm without any consultation with the union,” Solomon said, adding that the re-delegation of duties of that sort was against the agreement that they had agreed on.

No justice for airline workers dismissed in union busting exercise03-05-2018

In October 2017 Human Resources Minister Richard Riot decided not to refer the claim of about 3,600 Malaysian Airlines (MAS) workers, claiming wrongful dismissal and reinstatement, to the industrial court – hence denying these workers the right for their claim to be heard speedily and determined.
The workers were among those who lost their jobs in June 2015 in a wave of mass lay-offs by government-owned Malaysian Airlines. The Malaysian government transferred the assets of Malaysian Airlines Systems Berhad (MAS Bhd) to a newly created separate legal entity, Malaysian Airlines Berhad (MAB), terminated all employees in the previous company – and then re-employed selected workers in the new company. The government then passed a new law that made the new company specifically not liable for the actions and liabilities of the old company. The exercise was described by some observers as possibly the biggest union-busting exercise of recent times, as six of the trade unions were in-house unions, and the exercise effectively wiped out all of them.

Malaysian government ignores trade union rights violations31-12-2017

The Human Resources Ministry quarterly report 3/2017 September (Employment and Labour Statistics) shows there are no statistics on workplace inspections to ensure that worker and trade union rights are not being violated. Similarly there are no statistics to record the investigation and prosecution of employers who have violated labour laws and fundamental worker rights, or about information or complaints received or about employers found guilty. The only available labour statistics concern occupational health and safety.

Rights of workers at the Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa finally restored30-04-2017

Members of the IUF-affiliated National Union of Hotel, Bar and Restaurant Workers Peninsular Malaysia (NUHBRW) at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa have won back their collective agreement and restored collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
rights after a 13-year fight.
In December 2004 Shangri-La Hotels closed its Rasa Sayang Resort in Penang for renovation and reopened as Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa in September 2006. However, Shangri-La claimed that while all of the workers returned to work at the renovated hotel, it was a “new” hotel and the wages and benefits under the existing collective agreement no longer applied.
NUHBRW members launched protest actions against the unilateral termination of the collective agreement and took the case to the Industrial Court. The union won a favourable decision which reaffirmed the union’s collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
rights, but Shangri-La launched a costly legal battle to assert its power to unilaterally impose new terms of employment.
Finally, in April 2017, the Federal Court upheld the Industrial Court decision and ordered Shangri-La to restore the terms and conditions of the collective agreement retroactive to 2006.

Union leader dismissed just ahead of bargaining session13-12-2016

INFINEON Technologies (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd dismissed Muhammad Zulfadlee Thye Bin Abdullah, the president of the Infineon Technologies Malaysia Workers Union (Kesatuan Pekerja Pekerja Infineon Technologies (M) Sdn Bhd) on 13 December 2016. He was accused of “malingering”, implying an unjustified absence, on 18 October 2016. Zulfadlee actually had a medical certificate for four days, from 18 to 21 October, because he was suffering from gallstones. The problem appears to be his last minute decision to briefly attend a union activity that had been organised for that day, at the behest of other colleagues. Six other members of the executive committee of the union, including the vice-president and the secretary, were also targeted and subjected to disciplinary action further to the union activity, attended by over 40 colleagues. No one else was sanctioned for their participation in the event organised by the Selangor Division of the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC), other than the union leaders. Zulfadlee had worked for the company for 18 years and had an exemplary record. When he appealed against his dismissal, the company refused to reinstate him, citing serious misconduct.

The MTUC pointed out that the union was about to begin negotiations on a new collective agreement at INFINEON, and that the disciplinary measures appeared to be aimed at instilling fear.

Consistent denial of recognition for forestry union22-07-2016

Sabah Forest Industries (SFI) has consistently used judicial review proceedings to delay and effectively deny recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. to the Sabah Timber Industries Employees Union (STIEU). On 27 June 2016 the Sabah High Court dismissed a recent judicial review of a decision by the Malaysian Minister of Human Resources ordering the SFI to recognise the union, in March 2015.

This was the third time SFI had used judicial review proceedings to undermine union recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. and avoid collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
. Despite the Sabah High Court’s dismissal of the judicial review, SFI filed yet another appeal to that decision on 22 July 2016. SFI, which is owned by the Indian multinational paper company BILT, also wilfully ignored a decision of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) that found breaches of ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
Core Conventions 87 and 98. The Ombudsman for the investment arm of the World Bank, which has a total of USD 250 million invested in SFI’s parent company, was also investigating SFI and BILT’s anti-union behaviour.

It seemed clear that the constant applications for a judicial review were simply a tactic designed to delay union recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. for long enough to trigger a new election period, taking the union back to the beginning of the process again. Without some kind of intervention, STIEU fear they may be locked in this cycle indefinitely.

Electronics company found guilty of union busting08-03-2016

On 8 March 2016 an industrial court found Renesas Semiconductor KL guilty of union busting union busting Attempts by an employer to prevent the establishment of a trade union or remove an existing union, e.g. by firing union members, challenging unions in court, or by forming a yellow union. . The events that led to the court case cover several years, beginning with the founding of the Electro-nics Industry Employees Union-Western Region Peninsular Malaysia (EIEU-WRPM) in December 2009. The company refused to recognise the union, and instead set up an in-house union in early 2010. It offered the post of president of the new in-house union to the president of the EIEU local, Wan Noorulazhar, which he refused. He was subsequently redeployed to a post below his status, and in 2011 was sacked in what the judge described as “manifestly a union-busting tactic”.

Suspected union-busting tactics at Malaysian Airlines31-10-2015

In June 2015 Malaysian Airlines Systems Berhad (MAS Bhd) transferred their assets and airline business to a newly created separate legal entity, Malaysian Airlines Berhad(MAB). The 20,000 MAS Bhd employees lost their jobs, and only 14,000 were taken on by MAB, the new company that took over the Malaysian Airlines, leaving 6,000 out of work. At the same time, the in-house trade unions that existed in MAS Bhd effectively ceased to exist, leaving MAB free of trade unions. Both the former MAS and the new MAB are government owned.

The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (NUFAM) duly applied to the new employer MAB for recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. in a letter dated 11 September 2015. However, MAB did not respond to that application within the 21 days stipulated by law, to either grant recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. or notify it of the grounds for refusing recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. .

NUFAM then reported the matter in writing to the Director General for Industrial Relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
on 6 October 2015, again as required by law, in order that the authorities take such steps or make such enquiries to ascertain the “… the competence of the trade union of workmen concerned to represent any workmen or class of workmen….” in MAB. Over 40 days later, the DG for Industrial Relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
had not responded to NUFAM.

NUFAM feared that the government-owned airline was mimicking the union-busting behaviour of private-sector companies. Companies have been known to in the past form a new separate legal entity, and then transfer assets and business from the existing company to the new entity, thereby killing off existing unions – forcing workers to start all over again to form, register and get recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. of their unions in the new entity. This strategy has also been used to get rid of workers’ leaders and union activists who stood up against exploitation.

Proposed legislative changes will weaken unions10-06-2015

The Secretary General of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) N. Gopal Kishnam warned that the legislative changes proposed under the “11th Malaysia Plan” announced in June 2015 would weaken industrial workers’ ability to collectively bargain with their employers.

The text of the 11th Plan states that amendments will be made to the Employment Act 1955, Trades Union Act 1959 and Industrial Relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
Act 1967. Those amendments would “address the rigidity of existing dismissal processes” and “increase flexibility in working hours and registration of trade union membership”.

The Human Resources Ministry, tasked with amending the laws, had not yet announced what these specific amendments would be, but the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) set out its proposals for what they should contain.

The MTUC expressed concern about several of the MEF’s proposals, especially on the reclassification of dismissals. In the case of in so-called voluntary separation schemes (VSS), for example, workers have to choose between two unpalatable options. Gopal cited a case where workers at a factory were given two choices: either sign up to a new employment agreement where they will no longer be union members or take the company’s VSS. “Staying on with the company is even worse because there will be no union to protect their interests and their welfare will not be covered by a collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
agreement.”.

The MTUC suspects that companies are resorting to more and more coercive VSS and Mutual Separation Schemes (MSS) in order to shed workers or bring down salary costs. “Unlike a retrenchment scheme, you don’t have to inform and justify your reasons to the ministry with a VSS and MSS scheme.” “The end result with such practices is that more and more workers are forced to give up their rights to unionise”, said Gopal. “It’s union-busting.”

Timber company continues to deny workers union recognition14-05-2015

Sabah Forest Industries (SFI) filed a judicial review on 14 May 2015 seeking to quash a ministerial order on the eligibility of its employees to vote in a secret ballot on whether they wanted to be represented by the Sabah Timber Industry Employees Union (STIEU). SFI workers had been battling for 24 years for union recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. , but had been thwarted at every turn by the company’s legal manoeuvres. Two previous attempts to file for recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. , in 2003 under the now defunct Sabah Forest Industries Employees Union and in 2010 as STIEU, had ended with SFI management successfully filing for judicial review. Yet STIEU’s 2010 secret ballot results following its claim for recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. revealed it had the support of 85.9 per cent of SFI workers.

Sadly a stark reminder of the need for a union to protect workers’ welfare came on 12 July 2015 when Yiki Janing, aged 51, died at the chip mill division at the SFI’s plant in Sipitang while operating machinery. SFI was accused of failing to install a fence on the conveyor machine, which caused the death of Mr. Yaning. In December 2015 the company was formally charged with failing to ensure its workers’ safety, health and welfare.

By the end of 2015 STIEU had still not achieved recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. . In the meantime, STIEU reported that SFI was trying to revive the defunct in-house union, and to urge some employees to file cases against STIEU leaders before the Trade Union Activities Department, in an effort to divide members and harass leaders.

Meanwhile, further to complaints filed by the Building and Wood Workers International (BWI), the company is under investigation by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Compliance Advisory Ombudsman of the World Bank for its anti-union practices and failure to comply with ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
Conventions 87 and 98 as required in certification systems and Performance Standards.

Tobacco workers arrested for picketing30-04-2015

Malaysian police arrested 11 workers from the National Union of Tobacco Industry Workers (NUTIW) at a picket near a factory close to Jalan University, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, on 23 April 2015. They were taken to the Seapark Police Station and detained overnight. The British American Tobacco (BAT) Berhad employees had taken to the streets to express their dissatisfaction over a voluntary separation scheme (VSS) offered to about 50 workers by the company. The first to lose their jobs were the union leaders.

Sabah Forest Industries prevents unionisation09-02-2015

Sabah Forest Industries (SFI) has been using numerous tactics to prevent the formation of an independent union independent union A trade union that is not affiliated to a national union. Can also be a union that is not dominated by an employer.

See yellow union

, the Sabah Timber Employees Union (STIEU). Workers have been struggling for trade union recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. since the early 2000s. The company publicly declared that it was committed to not opposing the formation of a union and that it was willing to facilitate this process. However, in reality it continues to deny workers the right to freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
. The Industrial Relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
Department ordered SFI to submit the list of the employees eligible to vote in union elections by 21 August 2014. SFI is still delaying the submission of the list arguing the union must prove its competency first.

Backlog of cases09-02-2015

A serious backlog of cases is building up at the Industrial Courts in Penang and Kuala Lumpur after the contracts of four senior Industrial Court chairmen were not renewed. This is not the first time the Court has been left vacant, but the problem is more acute now because the contracts of all four expired around the same time in August 2014.

Union busting tactics in the electronics sector09-02-2015

On 1-2 October 2014, workers in Malaysia voted for union representation by the Electronic Industry Employees Union (EIEU) at electronics manufacturer Infineon Technologies, despite strong pressure and union busting union busting Attempts by an employer to prevent the establishment of a trade union or remove an existing union, e.g. by firing union members, challenging unions in court, or by forming a yellow union. tactics by management. Workers at the Kulim-based plant in northwest Malaysia initially asked the company management for recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. of their union in April 2014. However, Infineon rejected the union’s demands and refused to enter a constructive dialogue with workers. EIEU was subsequently forced to pursue a long bureaucratic recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. procedure, while the company tried to destroy the workers’ efforts at organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. . In a bid to prevent union presence, the company tried to claim the factory was not producing electronic components. Eventually, Infineon agreed to a secret ballot of the entire workforce. In the run-up to the vote, the company regularly provided negative briefings against EIEU and threatened workers. Nonetheless, more than half of the workers voted in favour of having the union at the plant.

Malaysia Airlines attacks union09-02-2015

On 14 February 2014, Malaysia Airlines started disciplinary proceedings against 30 members of the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (NUFAM) as well as its General Secretary, Mohd Akram bin Osman, for having allegedly participated in an “illegal gathering” on 27 November 2013 at the Ministry of Human Resources in Putrajaya.

NUFAM is a registered trade union, and has sought recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. for collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
purposes from Malaysian Airlines. When the company refused to recognise the union, the Director General of the Industrial Relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
Department conducted a secret ballot vote in which 62.73 per cent of workers voted in support of NUFAM. However, on 4 October 2013, Malaysia Airlines challenged this decision by filing an application for a judicial review in the High Court.

On 29 November 2013, Malaysia Airlines terminated the employment contract of Ismail Nasaruddin, President of NUFAM, for a speech he gave in his capacity as union leader without conducting a disciplinary inquiry and without giving him the opportunity to respond to the allegations.

In December 2013, disciplinary proceedings were initiated against 10 NUFAM members for comments they made in their Facebook group.

Refusal to recognise unions31-03-2013

In March 2013, the Workers Union of the West Territory Electronic Industries picketed outside the Human Resources Ministry to protest against their employers’ refusal to acknowledge the existence of unions in their respective companies. Union president Wan Noorul Azhar Mohd Hanafiah said the companies arbitrarily bust unions by sacking the presidents, threatening union members and forming in-house unions.

The Director General of Trade Unions (Ministry of Human Resources) can refuse to register a trade union without giving any reason for the refusal and can withdraw registration, and is thus given very broad discretion in deciding these matters. Unions that do not register, or whose registration has been denied or withdrawn, are considered illegal organisations. The decisions by the Director General of Trade Unions (Ministry of Human Resources) and the Minister of Human Resources cannot be appealed to any Court.

10,000 workers denied collective bargaining rights28-09-2011

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 collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
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 recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. , which is a prerequisite for collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
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 recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. .

Many employers refuse to respond to the Department of Industrial Relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
’ (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 industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
Act 1967, aiming to address numerous weaknesses and resolve recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. 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 recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. . 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 recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. 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 picketing Demonstration or patrolling outside a workplace to publicise the existence of an industrial dispute or a strike, and to persuade other workers not to enter the establishment or discourage consumers from patronising the employer. Secondary picketing involves picketing of a neutral establishment with a view to putting indirect pressure on the target employer. or any form of action to protest against employers’ refusal to accord recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. .

Secret ballot system abused31-01-2011

Workers opt for the union that is to represent them by mandatory secret ballot. The Immigration Department and the employers prohibit foreign workers from taking part in these elections or any union activities. The Department of Industrial Relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
(DGIR), however, includes them in the overall figures for the purpose of determining union membership. This can heavily dilute the votes in favour of a union and often results in the denial of union recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. . Furthermore, according to the Regulations, workers who do not vote are considered to be against the union. Even those who have passed away are required to vote.

Free organising hampered in electronics industry30-11-2009

The government continues to bar the formation of national unions in the electronics industry and only allows the creation of in-house, enterprise-level electronics unions.

Prohibition on migrant workers’ organising30-11-2009

Approximately 2.6 million migrant workers in Malaysia (25% of total workforce) are prevented by law from organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. . The Malaysian Trades Union Congress claims that companies intimidate migrant workers to prevent them from joining the union and then use the fact that they are not members to deny recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. to unions by claiming they have the support of less than 50% of the workforce. Notices placed on migrant work permits state that these workers are prohibited to join unions. The system for registering migrant workers discourages workers from asserting their rights because it grants total discretion to employers to terminate workers for virtually any reason.

Union recognition is arbitrary and extremely slow30-11-2009

Obtaining a response from an employer to a request for union recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. should take a maximum of 21 days. However, in reality this takes much longer if a dispute occurs, because the matter must be taken to the Director General of Industrial Relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
, the Director General of Trade Unions (DGTU) and then the Minister of Human Resources, who has the final say, unless that is challenged in the High Court. Some applications take as long as three to five years.

In a previous complaint to the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) listed cases in which the DGTU had arbitrarily denied organisational and collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
rights to more than 8,000 workers in manufacturing companies. Longstanding complaints from the MTUC and its affiliates over the cumbersome process to obtain union recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. and collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
have also remained unresolved despite changes to the Industrial Relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
Act. The amendments stipulated specific measures to resolve the unions’ claim for recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. within a period of six months. Unfortunately, government authorities have claimed that they cannot enforce the amendments because of the absence of appropriate regulations.

Vague laws open up to abuse by employers30-11-2009

The law forbids managers and workers in executive positions from organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. , but a definition of this category of workers is not provided in the law. This has led to extensive abuse by most employers to deny union membership rights and remove experienced union leaders, often by interpreting the managerial and executive category as including supervisors, assistant supervisors, section leaders and lower-level supervisory personnel. Another legal provision that is widely misused by the employers concerns the requirement that trade unions apply for recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. from the employers. The latter use this to delay union recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. and thwart efforts by unions to organise and bargain collectively.

Ban on general confederations30-11-2009
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