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Union picket breaks deadlock in Malaysia

17 March, 2020A one-day picket of Electronics Industry Employees’ Union Northern Region (EIEUNR) forced Infineon Technologies (Kulim) Sdn Bhd to return to the negotiation table to continue bargaining for a collective agreement. The employer had declared a deadlock in the negotiations on 25 February.

350 workers gathered outside the company gates to protest against the deadlock and against management’s proposal of a zero wage increment. According to EIEUNR, the proposal is unfair as the company has made a net profit of RM479 million (US$111 million) from 2016 to 2018.

“We suggest a three to ten per cent wage adjustment based on years of service, unlimited medical benefits, a RM1,200 (US$280) maternity subsidy and a RM200 (US$46) shift allowance. These are reasonable demands, given the company’s sound financial situation. The union is opposing reducing bonuses and other workers’ benefits,”

says Firdaus Saad, EIEUNR vice president.

“The employer must improve health and safety conditions in the factory. Workers are forced to walk through hallways and stairs full of gas and chemical piping every day. Management has promised to tackle the problem but so far nothing has happened.”

The picket ended after Infineon technologies invited union leaders for a meeting and agreed to resume negotiations on 30 March. Management reaffirmed its commitment that the new collective agreement would be concluded by end of April and would back pay all arrears from 1 January 2020.

IndustriALL Global Union regional secretary Annie Adviento is urging the company to respect the social dialogue and resume negotiations in good faith with the union.

“Profit-sharing is a basic principle of collective bargaining; Infineon Technologies should seriously consider EIEUNR’s demands because electronics firms are generally in good shape in Malaysia,”

says Annie Adviento.