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Malaysian union wins collective agreement after nine years

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18 May, 2021Malaysia’s Electronics Industry Employees’ Union Western Region (EIEUWR) has won its first collective agreement at Nichicon (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. after nine years of legal challenges and delaying tactics by the employer.

Since setting up a worksite committee at the manufacturer of aluminium electrolytic capacitors in 2012 and winning a secret ballot on union recognition, the company immediately filed legal challenges against the union.

Nichicon questioned the validity of the secret ballot result, saying that the ballot papers prepared by the industrial relations department were not in foreign languages, in spite of many Myanmar, Indonesian and Philippine migrant workers in the factory. The union won the court case.

In a second attempt, the company filed another suit against the union president Wan Noorulaazhar bin Mohd Hanafiah, arguing that he could not represent union members as he was purportedly an executive-level worker. The case was thrown out of court.

In 2019, the union sent the first collective bargaining proposal to Nichicon. However, the company delayed negotiations by rejecting most of the union’s proposals.

The union held a Valentine picket on 14 February 2020. The collective action forced the Ministry of human resources to swiftly refer the dispute to the industrial court. The company and the union reached an out-of-court settlement and signed the first collective agreement on 7 May 2021.

“This success is the result of a collective struggle over nine years and I thank all union members who fought together since day one. After signing the collective agreement, our members will enjoy a four percent wage rise, one-month contractual bonus, a variable bonus and other additional allowances,”

says Bruno Pereira, the general secretary of EIEUWR.

“I congratulate EIEUWR for successfully signing their first collective agreement. Many electronics companies in Malaysia use legal challenges as delay tactics to deny workers’ fair share of corporate profits. We call on them to stop denying workers their right to bargain for decent wages and benefits,”

says Annie Adviento, IndustriALL South East Asia regional secretary.