The first day of the forum held in Petaling Jaya, was an open session for affiliates and potential affiliates in Malaysia bringing together 28 trade union leaders representing 14 organizations, 7 of which are affiliated to IndustriALL.
The meeting as an opportunity for the various trade unions to discuss the current issues of the labour movement. Those participating were unified in the view that the prevailing labour law in the country was designed to weaken, bust and crash the existing unions in Malaysia.
Similarly, the government is systematically discouraging the formation of unions by allowing employers to challenge the competency of unions and by ensuring that the workers will not be able to comply with the 50 per cent workplace representation requirements for union recognition.
According to statistics, there are 80,000 unionized workers out of a workforce of 3 million. This figure has been stagnant for more than 10 years. The other priority issues the unions at the meeting identified in addition to organizing were low wages and precarious employment.
On the second day, only those unions affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union attended and decided to form the IndustriALL Malaysian Council. The unions appointed Bro. Rajasekaran (MIEU) and Bro. Gopal (NUTEIW) as coordinators of the group who will initiate the first meeting of the affiliates to formalize the discussion on the proposed structure to be held sometime in April. It was agreed that the strategy going forward would be to determine education programs based on need and in consultation with all affiliates.
The affiliates recognize that IndustriALL will be very effective in initiating global pressure on government and employers to respect the rights of workers around the world. The affiliates also decided to seek the assistance of IndustriALL in mounting international pressure on the government and employers to respect freedom of association.
The affiliates expressed high hope that in the IndustriALL Malaysian Council, they will be able to protect the rights of the workers by working together to counter the prevailing hostile environment for trade unions in Malaysia. It’s the only way!