INDUSTRIES must always ensure that its labour force stay healthy and vibrant instead of practising suppressed labour which will only impede productivity.
Companies should also recognise the rights of their workers to form unions which could help productivity, the Employment Law Forum 2012 heard.
Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy in his opening speech at the forum in Bayview Georgetown Hotel, urged multi-national companies (MNCs) in the states to promote the formation of unions.
Citing examples of countries such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland whose labour force is mostly unionised, he added that these countries had workforce with a very high employment rate of 80 to 90%.
Dr Ramasamy also advised MNCs not to be fearful of union formation.
“Some years back, certain industries like the electronics industry were not allowed to form unions.
“Now, there is a national union which is divided into four regions — north, central, south and east,” he said.
Penang Labour Department director Hoe Lean Fatt said there were more than 60 unions in Penang to date in various industries such as textile, transport, metal, printing and electrical.
Organised by the Penang State Human Resources Liaison Committee (PHRLC), the one-day forum was attended by some 200 people.
Speakers at the forum included PHRLC chairman Datuk Ajit Singh Jessy, Hoe and Penang Hindu Endowment Board executive director M. Ramachandran.
Also present at the opening ceremony was Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers Penang branch chairman Khoo Cheok Sin.