I REFER to your report “No need for consensus among MTUC officials for labour law amendments”.
I am perplexed by the Malaysian Trades Union Congress’ opposition to amendments to the Industrial Relations Act 1967 (Act 177), which was passed by Dewan Rakyat recently.
MTUC has been harping on the fact that the amendments were not endorsed by the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC), a body comprising MTUC, Malay-sian Employers’ Federation (MEF) and Human Resources Ministry.
But the reality is that NLAC had met nine times this year, when in the past, it had met about twice a year.
This excludes technical and sub-committee meetings.
NLAC is a platform for consultation. The views aired are diverse. Some would be competing, given that the tripartite platform is made up of entities with different interests.
At the end of the day, it is the ministry’s job to protect the welfare of 15.19 million workers.
It would be naive to think that NLAC can come up with a solution that pleases all parties when MTUC president Datuk Abdul Halim Mansor and his secretary-general, J. Solomon, cannot even see eye to eye on fundamental labour issues.
What is important is that the views of all parties are sought to cultivate a robust labour ecosystem that is in line with the needs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
In fact, Sarawak MTUC secretary Andrew Lo had lauded the ministry’s efforts with the amendments to the Industrial Relations Act, describing them as a “game-changer” for industrial relations. This is evidence that, even in MTUC, there are diverse views.
Lo lauded the ministry’s consultations with not just the principal stakeholders, like MTUC and MEF, but also other workers and employers groups, non-governmental organisations and the International Labour Organisation.
So the question is why is the MTUC main body so opposed to the amendments without even spelling out the provisions it has a beef with?
Could it be that MTUC is afraid its powers will be diluted by the “freedom to form unions” provided for in the amendments?
Could it be because the union’s office bearers are posturing ahead of their internal elections? Does MTUC have the interests of workers at heart or are they thinking about their posts?
When it comes to politics, MTUC has never hid its leanings.
Its president, Halim, has roped in Pas to torpedo the passage of the bill in the upcoming senate sitting. Let’s not forget that Halim had called on MTUC members to back Barisan Nasional in the last general election.
As the Fourth Industrial Revolution sweeps across the world, it is imperative that governments and trade unions be ready to adapt to the changing human resources needs.
The last thing we need is to be bogged down by archaic mindsets or laws that will hamper our readiness to embrace this technological wave.
If MTUC is not prepared to rise up to this challenge, it is time we look for another body to champion workers’ welfare.
Seremban, Negri Sembilan