The Labour Law Reform Coalition (LLRC) calls on the government to immediately withdraw the fourth schedule of the Trade Union Bill 2022, which insinuates that trade unions could wage wars against the state and involve themselves in terrorism.
The Trade Union Bill empowers the human resources minister to introduce a new fourth schedule, which specifies offences: if a trade union is convicted, the director general of trade unions could cancel the registration of the unions or declare the affiliation of trade unions invalid.
The proposed fourth schedule stipulates offences under various chapters of the Penal Code: chapter VI (offences against the state, Sections 121-130A), chapter VIA (offences relating to terrorism, Sections 130B-S130T) and chapter VIB (organised crimes, Sections 130U-S130ZC).
This new provision is seemingly suggesting that trade unions could commit offences such as waging war against the Agong (Section 121), carrying out activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy (Section 124B), directing activities of terrorist groups (Section 130I) or assisting an organised criminal group (Section 130W).
It is totally insane to link trade unions to these criminal activities. The government should not, on the one hand, abolish the provisions relating to prohibition of participating in unlawful activities in the Trade Union Bill and, on the other, introduce the fourth schedule to prevent trade unions from joining unlawful activities.
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Given that the Penal Code applies to all persons, anyone who commits an offence, whether a trade unionist or not, will be prosecuted accordingly. Therefore, it is unnecessary for the government to include the Penal Code provisions in the fourth schedule of the Trade Union Bill.
The LLRC is of the view that the government should immediately drop the fourth schedule, which is acting as a deterring factor, to check the trade union movement. The fourth schedule can permanently disable trade unions in Malaysia; it is undoubtedly a knife hanging over the head of the labour movement.
We urge all political parties and MPs to oppose the fourth schedule of the Trade Union Bill! – LLRC
N Gopal Kishnam and Irene Xavier are co-chairpersons of the Labour Law Reform Coalition