The Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress registers its utmost objection to the government’s decision to defer the enforcement of the amendments to the Employment Act 1955.
We believe the government is pandering to the employers’ lobby and, in the circumstances, confining the wellbeing of working people to the back burner!
Our understanding of the amendments, though limited in scope, was to strike a balance of:
- enhancing workers’ welfare and protection
- ensuring our labour standards confirm with those set by the International Labour Organization (ILO)
- conforming with labour standard requirements in the process of negotiating free trade agreements
If those are the underpinnings needed to bring forth amendments to the Employment Act, it would have been expected of the government to act without fear or favour in sticking to its timeline for implementation of the Employment Act amendments.
We believe that, by wavering on the implementation of the amendments, the government will be seen as indecisive by nations who seek to forge trade pacts with us – taking the last issue set out above as an example.
Since it is alluded that the amendments are to enhance the welfare and protection of workers, we find it inexcusable for the government to pander to the employers’ lobbying.
Between the interest of the employers and the millions of workers who have contributed to the country’s economic development, the government has a moral obligation to implement the Employment Act amendments, though limited in franchise, immediately.
K Veeriah is secretary of the Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress