MTUC warns Oct 3 picket if Putrajaya tables labour law reforms

By G Manimaran, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 — The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has vowed to stage a protest outside Parliament when it starts sitting on October 3 if Putrajaya proceeds with its plan to amend current labour laws.

MTUC secretary-general Abdul Halim Mansor pointed out that Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam had recently given his assurance that the amendment Bill would not be tabled in the House without prior discussion with the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC).

The NLAC comprises representatives from the government, employers and employees.

He told The Malaysian Insider that the decision was reached during MTUC’s general council meeting last night.

“If the government really goes ahead with debates on any labour law Bill, especially the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2010, MTUC will picket outside Parliament on the first day of the sitting,” he said.

Parliament will reconvene this October 3 and go on until December. The coming session is scheduled to focus on debates for Budget 2012 but several Bills are also expected to be tabled. 

Halim said the MTUC general council has directed its secretariat to contact the ministry and find out if the amendment Bills would be brought to Parliament next month.

“If so, then it violates the minister’s guarantee to MTUC before this. If the Bills are read, MTUC will not hesitate to picket… we want the government to hold a discussion before any amendments are tabled,” he said.

The second reading of the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2010 has been postponed twice before this.

Trade union representatives and opposition politicians had decried the proposed amendments, claiming they were drawn up at the behest of multinational corporations and potential investors and deliberately designed to empower employers to employ workers on fixed-term contract for as long as they please.

The MTUC had also highlighted the fact that once the amendments are passed, “employers would be permitted to impose unreasonable working hours, change weekly rest days as they please”, in effect requiring women workers to work at night.