Workers gather at Shah Alam, protest against law amendments

About 20 workers together with members from Pati Sosialis Malaysia gathered at Section 15, Shah Alam yesterday to protest against the Federal Government’s proposed amendments on three labour laws.

The rally, planned as one of seven pickets simultaneously nationwide at 5.30 pm, proceeded in spite of the Federal Government’s decision not to table the amendment at the Parliament yesterday morning.

PSM secretary general Dr Nasir Hashim regarded the eleventh hour withdrawal as a victory for workers before leading the crowd to chant “Hidup pekerja! Hidup rakyat”.

The 15-minute picket also saw the crowd carrying banners with messages of “Reject Amendments to the Labour Law”.

At a press conference later, Nasir, who is also the Kota Damansara MP, pledged that he will continue monitoring the status of the amendment proposals.

“We have to be cautious. Although they have deferred tabling the bills, it might come out again anytime under the pressure of capitalists,” he said.

Nasir

PSM: amendments contain “neo-liberal agenda”

The Cabinet had proposed to amend the Work Act 1955, Industrial Relations Act 1967, and Trade Unions Act 1959 in view of easing the conditions surrounding the hiring and firing of workers.

PSM criticized the proposals as being in favour of employers and containing “neo-liberal agendas” to legitimate “slavery in modern times”.

PSM treasurer and MBSA councillor Sivarajan Arumugan warned that contractors and agents will be empowered to dominate in matters pertaining to salary-disbursing and workers’ dismissal should the bill be passed.

“(The contractors) will take over the role of factory management, and in consequence it will create a sub-class of workers serving for the contractors,” he said.

“On the other hand, factory management will not be held responsible for any matters regarding the workers,” he added.

According to Sivarajan, the proposed amendment also deprives a worker’s right to seek legal assistance if they are unjustly treated during the probation period and also entitles employers to defer paying overtime bonuses.

“These are the worst amendments we ever had in the labour act’s history,” he said.

(second from left) Dr Nasir and Sivarajan

Capitalists won’t run

Nasir meanwhile stressed that government should strike a balance between developments and the welfare of people.

“Our government is used to succumbing to capitalist threats. Its as if they don’t bow down to their requests, the capitalists will flee the country,” he said.

“But this won’t happen, (the capitalists) will never leave because Malaysia has good infrastructure,”

He added that PSM will continue to empower the workers community through dialogues and workshops while seeking to meet the Human Resource Ministry to express their views.

“We want to address the concern of workers being placed with low priority to the government, and for sure there is a way to achieve a win-win situation,” Dr Nasir said.