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Court rules compensation for dismissed autoworkers in Malaysia

29 October, 2018The industrial court of Malaysia has ruled in October in favour of workers who will be paid MYR1.1 million (US$265,000 US) of their wages retroactively since their dismissal in August 2013. All are members of IndustriALL’s Malaysian affiliate, the National Union of Transport Equipment & Allied Industries Union (NUTEAIW).

Although the judge found the workers guilty of misconduct in his verdict, he considered dismissal was an excessive punishment for 18 former employees of the two auto parts manufacturing companies, Hicom Automotive Manufacturers and Isuzu Hicom. Both companies are subsidiaries of the DRB-Hicom Group, which specializes in assembling cars in Malaysia for Tata-Motors, Honda, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Isuzu.

After their dismissal in 2013, NUTEAIW filed a case in support of their members at the industrial relations department of the ministry of human resources, and hired a lawyer to represent them in court.

Workers were fired after company management discovered a video recording on YouTube dated to May 2013 in which they were handing over a workers’ manifesto to a Malaysian Islamic Party candidate, demanding union rights and benefits. The candidate was running for a seat in the Pahang state parliament in the 2013 general elections.

Management accused workers of using the external source of influence with the aim of improving their wages and working conditions. Because some of the workers were wearing their uniforms with company logos during the hand-over, management claimed the company reputation was damaged and after few months of internal investigation fired 18 workers who participated in the action, including the one who organized it.

The court considered the misconduct was not a criminal offence. The court also noted that the dismissed workers, most of whom stayed with the same employer for 20 years, had never had any serious misconduct in their past record. The court proclaimed the dismissal was “disproportionate to the misconduct” and obliged the companies to pay out all the due wages as well as compensation in lieu of reinstatement since their dismissal. Each worker will get between MYR24,000 (U$5,800 US) and MYR94,000 (U$22,635 US).