Union Seeks Ilo Help Over Hicom Dismissal Of Five Leaders In 2016
The National Union of Transport Equipment and Allied Industries Workers (NUTEAIW) is taking the alleged unfair dismissal of five trade union leaders in 2016 to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), claiming that the government has failed to step in accordingly.
The complaint was filed against Hicom Automotive Manufacturers Sdn Bhd over an action which took place five years ago at its auto plant in Pekan, Pahang, in which five trade union leaders were dismissed for participating in union activities outside of work.
The union claimed that after it exhausted all domestic avenues, it was forced to take its case to the international forum.
“We argue that Malaysian government has violated the article 1(2)(b) of ILO Convention 98, which clearly stated that workers shall enjoy adequate protection against acts of anti-union discrimination such as dismissal because of participating in union activities outside working hours.
“We call on the Committee on Freedom of Association to demand the Malaysian government to strictly adhere to the principles enshrined in the ILO Convention 98, to ensure domestic labour laws effectively protect Malaysian workers from anti-union discrimination.
“(The) Malaysian government must investigate the acts of anti-union discrimination of Hicom that violated the section 4 and 5 of (the) Industrial Relations (Act),” said NUTEAIW general secretary N Gopal Kishnam in a statement today.
Section 4 and 5 of the Industrial Relations Act determines that no employer can restrain or dismiss an employee for joining a trade union and partaking in union activities.
Malaysia is a member state of the ILO and has ratified 18 conventions, including the aforementioned ILO Convention 98 which details workers’ rights to organise and conduct collective bargaining.
Gopal said that prior to the dismissal of the union leaders in 2016, 110 NUTEAIW members attended a union briefing regarding a deadlock in collective bargaining which was held after working hours outside of Hicom’s premises.
“Unfortunately, the company accused the workers of ‘tarnishing the image’ of the company and ‘drawing unwanted public attention’,” he claimed, recounting that 32 union members were terminated following the meeting.
However, following a complaint lodged with the Industrial Relations Department and a few rounds of mediation meetings, all except the five union leaders were reinstated.
“Unfortunately, all courts failed to respect our members’ right to participate in legitimate trade union activities after working hours.
“An employment contract shall not regulate workers’ personal activities, as workers do not sell their labour after working hours.
“The courts also misinterpreted the Industrial Relations Act and conceived the union briefing as ‘illegal picket’, an offence that was never pursued by either Hicom or the Industrial Relations Department.
“The courts have totally failed to defend the five union leaders’ freedom of association guaranteed by the Federal Constitution and international labour standards,” claimed Gopal.
Hicom is an automotive manufacturing company owned by DRB-Hicom Bhd.
Malaysiakini has attempted to contact the automotive manufacturing company but has yet to receive a response.
Malaysiakini has also attempted to seek Human Resources Minister M Saravanan for his views on the latest development. - Mkini
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