Thursday, December 10, 2015

MTUC to ISIS: Labour enemy of the state?

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has expressed outrage and demanded that the Institute for Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) retract its stand in a report that increased labour rights under the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement was a “Public Order and Stability” issue. ISIS in its National Interest analysis released last week added that, “the potentially disruptive threats posed by labour actions will have a negative impact on national interest”.

 “Are workers a threat to public order and stability in the country? Why are workers perceived as enemies of the state?” asked MTUC’s Secretary-General, N Gopalakishnam at a media conference on Wednesday. Gopalakishnam called on ISIS and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) to see workers as part of the development framework and crucial stakeholders in the nation building process. The right to organize, form trade unions and enabling collective bargaining will lead to a more equitable society, he stressed.

 “This is clearly in line with the 11th Malaysia Plan that calls for reduction of income gap between the nation’s bottom 40 per cent and top 10 per cent.” “Clearly, the authors of the ISIS report have a poor understanding of workers and labour relations in the country, and as a result have wrongly represented the positive labour contributions to the country.”

 MTUC has every reason to question the integrity of the report and demands that MITI withdraw the present write-ups and rewrite the role of trade unions in a developmental perspective, continued Gopalakishnam. Gopalakishnam warned that MTUC will be left with no choice but to lodge an official complaint with the International Labor Organization (ILO) as well as the United States Embassy in Malaysia. TPPA’s Chapter 19 on Labour as well as Malaysia – United States Labour Consistency Plan, among others, calls for numerous legal reforms to strengthen and modernize 

Malaysia’s current restrictive labour laws and practices, as part of the ratification process. These new laws, according to ISIS, however, “may have a negative impact on public order and stability in Malaysia,” as stated in its report. It noted that, “The Government is aware of the potentially disruptive threats of labour actions and is studying measures to mitigate them.”
Trade union secretary- general castigates national think tank for describing “liberalized labour rights” as a threat to public order and national stability.

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