The Labour Law Reform Coalition congratulates Anwar Ibrahim for being appointed as the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia.
The decisive announcement of the commencement of the new parliament session on 19 December and the proposed vote of confidence for the unity government will certainly boost public confidence in the political coalition.
LLRC urges the new government to give priority to the Trade Union (Amendment) Bill 2022 in this parliament session, which was only passed in the House of Representatives a few days before the dissolution of Parliament on 10 October.
The Trade Union (Amendment) Bill is of paramount importance because the bill provides for freedom of association of workers in Malaysia. The restriction on establishing unions within particular trade, occupation and industry was removed. The power of the director general has been severely curtailed and more freedom is given to trade unions. This is unprecedented. The draconian provisions imposed by the British colonial regime are finally relaxed.
We hope that both Trade Union Act and the Industrial Relations Act amendments can be fully enforced in March 2023. Workers in Malaysia will use their wisdom and freedom to increase union density and collective bargaining coverage, as a step to address the unbalanced power between employers and workers, and to fight for higher wages and benefits for all workers in the country.
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In addition, considering that the unity government consists of Pakatan Harapan, Barisan Nasional and its East Malaysian partners Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah, we call on the federal ‘unity government’ and the Sarawak and Sabah state governments to coordinate with each other on the amendments to the Sarawak Labour Ordinance and the Sabah Labour Ordinance.
The amendments to the two ordinances should be passed as soon as possible, and it should take effect on 1 January 2023 – the same as the Employment Act amendments that cover West Malaysia.
We wish the new prime minister good luck in governing the country over the next five years. May his heart be with the workers when considering public policies relating to labour.
N Gopal Kishnam and Irene Xavier are the co-chairpersons of the Labour Law Reform Coalition