111 report lodged today at Dang Wangi Police Station
Kuala Lumpur, 11th October, 2007
This morning, JERIT’s Factory and Unions Coalition lodged its One Hundred and One police report against the Human Resource Minister, Dato Fong Chan Onn who has manipulated and cheated the workers! The report was lodged at the Dang Wangi District police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur at 10.30 am. when a group of twenty members carried a banner and walked to the police station to submit the official complaint.
Dato Fong Chan Onn, the Human Resources Minister and his Deputy Dato Abdul Rahman Bakar tabled several amendments to the Industrial Relations laws that protect worker’s rights. Even though the Deputy Minister, in an earlier meeting with representatives of JERIT, assured that an amendment to enable the automatic recognition of trade unions is underway and was in the final stages in the cabinet, BUT what was finally tabled in July 2007 was something else.
The amendments that were tabled and passed in Parliament on the 27th of July , 2007 would further make it difficult for trade unions to gain recognition. Currently, many union leaders suffer victimization by their employers, despite being lawfully registered by the Trade Union Affairs Department. When a union claims for recognition from the employer, the employer has to reply within 21 days from the date of the claim. Failing which, the union then proceeds to make a report to the Industrial Relations Department.
The proposed amendment further introduces bureaucracy with a new clause insisting the unions to make the report to the Industrial Relations Department within 14 days. Failing which the whole process of recognition would be null and void. Such bureaucratic regulations by the state grant the employer sufficient time to track down union officials to victimize, terrorize and subsequently terminate them. This has been proven to be an effective tool by the bosses to carry out union-busting at the workplace.
Besides the added bureaucracy, several amendments to the Acts were also tabled that further erode worker’s rights. Payment of back wages to workers dismissed unlawfully has been capped at 24 months max., irrespective of how long the Industrial case goes on. Such pro-employer amendments will encourage employers to hire and fire workers as they like since the Industrial Court hands will be tight by this 24 months back wages cap.
Other parts of the amendment also seek to curb claim of future earnings, for workers who have been terminated without just cause and excuse near retirement.
The Minister, a mouthpiece of the employers has been consistently pushing for neoliberal policies to further amend laws that protect worker’s rights. He claims that our Labour laws are too tight and would not be an inducement for foreign investment.
The police report campaign initiated by JERIT has received good support from workers all over the country. More than 100 over reports have been made by workers from, Perak, Penang, Johor, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and other states. Workers are fed up with Fong Chan Onn. He has created and further deprived them of their rights. Fong too has been always against the demand for Minimum Wage. With the rising cost of living, workers are having a hard time making ends meet.
The One Hundred and One police report was significantly completed by Comrade V.Selvam, Central Committee member of Parti Sosialis Malaysia who was accompanied by around 20 members of JERIT and PSM. Selvam explained that the report against the Minister must be investigated by the Police Department Headquarters in Bukit Aman. The police officer who took a brief statement from Selvam, ASP Anand, later confirmed that reports would be referred to the headquarters.
“ With 100 over reports, will the Minister be arrested for cheating the workers ? “ asked Comrade Koyilvani, a victim of union-busting by her employer. The Minister might not be arrested, but he will not certainly escape the wrath of the working class. JERIT has vowed to carry out a nationwide campaign against the Minister and his Deputy.
A demonstration is being planned when the Parliament Dewan Negara (Senators House) sits in December to read the amendments to the Industrial Relations and Trade Union Acts. With the general elections around the corner, JERIT plans to put up posters exposing, Fong Chan On and Abdul Rahman Bakar as enemies of the working class and running dogs for the bosses!
The workers now realize that the state will continue to steer towards neoliberalism, eroding worker’s rights and pushing them further into hardship. The struggle is beyond safeguarding workers’ rights, as it is a struggle against capitalism and globalization.