Sunday, November 27, 2011

MTUC threatens ‘war’ if labour law changed

Alias speaks during the PKR annual assembly, in Johor Baru November 27, 2011.

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) said today it will “declare war” on Barisan Nasional (BN) if amendments to the Employment Act are passed by Dewan Negara on December 12.

Financial secretary Alias Awang Ibrahim said the umbrella body of 390 labour unions representing 802,323 members, will then offer its support to any political party that pledges to repeal the changes that officially recognise third-party labour providers.

“If it is passed in Dewan Negara on December 12, then MTUC will declare war on them. There is no room for compromise,” he told PKR delegates at the party’s national congress here.

Dewan Rakyat has already passed the contentious amendments to the law on October 6, which MTUC claimed would “bring back slavery” and erode protection for workers as employers will no longer be directly responsible for the welfare of their employees.

The MTUC previously warned Datuk Seri Najib Razak that the votes of 5.7 million workers “could decide matters” in a general election expected early next year.

“If they pass it on December 12, then we will meet to back whichever party promises to withdraw the amendments,” Alias Awang said later.

The MTUC has picketed several times against the labour law changes, including a nationwide protest on November 3 that the body said saw some 2,000 people taking part in 18 locations across the country.

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

Najib tabled his Budget 2012 the same week, proposing 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 also promised to implement a minimum wage policy by end-2011 but Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has already pledged a national minimum of RM1,100 and support for the union’s protest against labour law changes.

The PR-held Selangor administration also announced that it will implement the RM1,100 base salary when tabling its own Budget for next year.

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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