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Friday, April 30, 2010

Labour laws not intended to exploit workers

I REFER to “Don’t take away rights of employees” (The Star, April 27). It is surprising that the writer, a former labour officer and presently a management consultant, feels that the proposals aim to cause inconvenience to employers and remove the rights of employees.

I do not see any basis for his statement. I also do not see any basis for his claim that former officers of the Human Resources Ministry (MOHR) have a better understanding of the labour law than the current serving officers.

His claim that the 2007 amendments were bulldozed through Parliament without proper discussion is a misstatement. All amendments to labour laws are discussed at the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) which consists of representatives from workers, the ministry and employer organisations.

Discussion does not mean agreement, because whatever that is agreeable to the employers will invariably be disagreed to by the workers and vice versa.

It is also not true that the 2007 amendments resulted in erosion of the rights of employees and trade unions.

Our labour laws are more than 50 years old and were originally intended for that time. It is necessary now to amend them to bring them in line with the needs of the current economy.

It is important that the labour laws are such that they are conducive to foreign direct investment which is crucial for us. This does not mean that the labour laws should seek to exploit workers. Proposals that seek to widen the scope of the Employment Act 1955 are favourable to employees.

It would be good if experienced labour officers make constructive suggestions to the ministry rather than criticise in the media.

Shah Alam.

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