Friday, October 28, 2011

MTUC warns Najib labour law battle will go on to polls

MTUC warns Najib labour law battle will go on to polls

October 28, 2011
Malaysian Insider

MTUC members protest amendments to the Employment Act, outside Parliament in Kuala Lumpur, October 3, 2011. — Picture by Choo Choy May
SUBANG JAYA, Oct 28 — The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) warned Datuk Seri Najib Razak today that the votes of 5.7 million workers “could decide matters” on polling day unless labour law changes that could affect job security and workers’ rights are withdrawn.

The umbrella body, which comprises 390 of the 692 labour unions and a total of 802,323 members, said in a press conference today that “we are non-partisan, but our battle will have to go on” against amendments to the Employment Act passed on October 6 which it has called “a return to slavery.”

“We call on the prime minister to hear our calls that have become shouts and screams on behalf of 5.7 million voters. There are 5.7 million workers who are registered workers. That is our signal to him,” general secretary Abdul Halim Mansor told reporters today.

The MTUC affirmed today that its nationwide picket in at least 20 locations on November 3 continues “an ongoing action” against legislation that it says will “green light investors to hire Malaysians as contract workers instead of permanent staff.”

It said this will encourage companies to outsource more of labour requirements, handing over responsibility over rights and benefits such as social security and Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contributions to third-party contractors who “can escape easily when business goes bad.”

The MTUC had first protested the amendments on October 3, drawing hundreds of workers to the gates of Parliament.

Najib tabled his Budget 2012 proposals earlier this month that provided cash handouts and an extra one per cent employers’ contribution to the pension fund for those earning up to RM5,000 a month, which covers most of MTUC’s members.

His government has also promised to implement a minimum wage policy by end-2011 but Pakatan Rakyat (PR) have already pledged a national minimum of RM1,100 and support for the union’s protest against labour law changes.

Najib is expected to hold a general election soon, after announcing RM4.5 billion in direct assistance to citizens and pay hikes for some 1.3 million civil servants for next year’s Budget.

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