PETALING JAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's call for unions to change their attitude and to not function as a facilitator of pickets is "old fashioned", and one which has been "recycled" from the past, claims Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM).
Its central committee member S. Arutchelvan said it is the role of the government to become the bridge between unions and employers, adding that a union's role was to defend the fate of workers.
"We have not heard Dr Mahathir reprimanding employers to pay higher wages or even called on employers to build houses for workers, as well as to raise employment benefits.
"Under Dr Mahathir's rule, the unions in the country become weak and no longer play the role of a union that guarantees the welfare of workers," he said in a statement on Thursday (Dec 6).
Arutchelvan was responding to the Prime Minister, who had said that unions should act as “bridges” between workers and employers, and not function as facilitators of pickets to push their demands.
He said that under Dr Mahathir, several initiatives started by the premier had weakened the unions in the country.
He claimed that this consists of the abolition of the National Trade Union for electronic workers, and the setting up of the Malaysia Labour Organisation (MLO) to allegedly weaken the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC).
Arutchelvan also claimed that under Dr Mahathir, the minimum wage legislation and other laws, which were pro-workers based, were not implemented.
"All his policies are pro-employers and anti-workers," he said.
He said most workers generally do not have the intention to picket or demonstrate.
However, he said when the workers have been oppressed, then they would picket and go on strike.
"When toilet workers at the court were not paid their salaries, they went on strike. Workers would only do so when they are desperate.
"Workers are the heart of the country's development, they are not robots or machines.
“They need to eat and need the money to support their lives and to have good health,” he said.