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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Don’t take away rights of employees

I REFER to the report “Subra warns congress” (The Star, April 24) and I am surprised that the Human Resources Minister has issued a warning to MTUC not to “politicise” the Labour Law review.

I have looked at the proposals to amend various labour legislation and noticed that all the proposals seem to aim at causing inconvenience to employers and removing the rights of employees.

All these proposals are marked “Sulit” (confidential) although since labour legislation is essentially social legislation, these proposals should be made public because it would affect all the employers and employees who form the majority of the country’s population.

However, since these proposals being marked Sulit, I will not comment on the contents.

I also noticed that the minister stated that there would be consultations with various parties and that their views would be taken into consideration before any decision is made.

I wonder which are the parties that would be considered.

I also wonder whether the minister would consider discussing these issues with former officers of his ministry who apparently have a wider understanding of the provisions of the labour laws than the current serving officers.

I agree with MTUC president Syed Shahir that his organisation should continue to, not only discuss with the Government on these proposals but, hopefully that together with other parties, they may be able to offer some concrete suggestions.

It is now open secret that the 2007 amendments were bulldozed through Parliament without proper public discussion.

Those amendments which were gazetted about 10 days before the last General Election have resulted in the erosion of rights of employees and trade unions which have been guaranteed earlier not only by legislation but also by decisions of the Industrial Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.

One wonders whether such rights bestowed by our courts of law would be removed by amendments to the relevant laws that provided these rights.

It must be noted that the 2007 amendments provided horrendous powers to the officers of the Industrial Relations Department who have, for decades, been referred to as peacemakers.

Those amendments have created armed peacemakers.

I sincerely hope that the proposals to amend the labour legislation would be given careful consideration so that the rights of the employees are maintained and preserved in line with the New Economic Model.

DAVID KANAGARAJ,

Shah Alam

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