We, the National Union of Transport Equipments & Allied Indutries Workers NUTEAIW) is appalled by the action of DRB Hicom companies, being Hicom Automotive Manufacturing Sdn Bhd and Isuzu Hicom Sdn Bhd in Pekan, taking disciplinary action against 18 workers who exercised their right as citizens outside working hours. Pursuant to a decision by the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC), which was also supported by the NUTEAIW, to extract commitments on worker rights from contesting candidates and political parties, workers went to meet contesting candidates before election day.
On 3/5/2013, these 18 workers submitted the MTUC memorandum to one of the contesting candidates in the Parliamentary constituency, which also happens to be the constituency that the Prime Minister of Malaysia was contesting. For this, disciplinary action have been initiated by two DRB HICOM companies in Pekan, after more than 85 days of suspension were terminated on 19th August 2013.
Hicom Automotive Manufacturing Sdn Bhd, which assembles automobiles for
and Volkswagen, issued show cause letters to 16 workers, and speedily proceeded with the Domestic Inquiry on 11th June 2013 and terminated them on 19th Auguste 2013. Likewise, Isuzu Hicom Sdn Bhd, that assembles automobiles for Isuzu, issued show cause letters to 2 workers and they too has been terminated by the Company on 19th August 2013. The workers were not allowed the right to be represented by representatives of the National Union, only representatives from the work site committee.
We consider this not only a gross violation of worker rights, but a violation of the right of citizens to participate in the democratic process of Malaysia during the 13th General Elections. No employer should have the right to dictate directly or indirectly the political choices, activities and/or actions of their workers, more so outside employment hours. Workers, as citizens, of Malaysia must have the freedom to join and participate in any political parties, even offer themselves as candidates and involve themselves in campaigning in general elections. Hence the taking of this disciplinary action against workers for things they did in exercise of their rights as citizens in a democracy during the 13th General Elections is an infringement of their rights. The best thing that these DRB Hicom companies can do now is to immediately reinstate these workers without any delay.
The charges levied against the workers are (1) Undermining the image or good name of the company orally, in writing or by action, and (2) Bringing about or trying to bring about any form of influence or outside pressure to submit or support any external claim that is related to service be it an individual claim or claims of other employees.
The employer allegedly is of the position that the participation and action of the said 18 workers, were contrary to the interest of the company gave the false impression that the company was involved in politics.
If the company fears that there will be a perception that ‘the company was involved in politics’, it is hypocritical given the fact that during campaigning period, on 25/4/2013, the company encouraged workers to go and meet the Barisan Nasional Paliamentary candidate for Pekan, Mohd Najib Abdul Razak, also the incumbent Prime Minister. Workers were allowed to go for the meeting during working hours. This event was also highlighted in Najib’s 13th General Election Pekan Constituency candidate website (http://www.parlimenpekan.com,) and the posting was entitled ‘Dato’ Sri Najib Beramah Mesra Dengan Warga DRB-Hicom Pekan’(Dato’ Sri Najib Socialize with DRB-Hicom citizenry). Later that very day women workers were also allowed by the company to meet up with Najib’s wife.
Companies and businesses should never terminate a worker for reasons other than matters that relates to work performance and/or their conduct as a worker save for very exceptional cases like where a worker is convicted for a criminal offence.
These 18 workers have families and children, and a termination would cause great hardship to their wellbeing and livelihood. Amongst the 18 are also trade union leaders, including also the current chairperson of MTUC Pahang Division
We call on DRB Hicom, Hicom Automotive Manufacturing Sdn Bhd and Isuzu Hicom Sdn Bhd to immediately reinstate them without loss of benefits.
We call on Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak,being also the Member of Parliament for Pekan, to intervene and ensure that worker and citizen rights of his constituents are not violated by employers.
This press release is prepared and released by:
National Union of Transport Equipment & Allied Industries Workers (NUTEAIW)
No. 30 A, Jalan Utas A, Section 15, 40000 Shah Alam. Selangor Darul Ehsan. Malaysia
Tel : 603-55192421 or 603-55193860
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com