IPOH: A company dealing with contract cleaners at government hospitals in the northern region has been accused of union-busting.
National Union of Workers in Hospital Support and Allied Services executive secretary M.Sarasvathy said the 1,000-odd members of the union (in the northern region) had been subjected to intimidation and bullying.
She claimed this had been going on ever since secret balloting to form the committee of the union was carried out in September last year.
“The union was formed in 1997, but became inactive. In 2016, a group of workers decided to reactive it.
“So in September last year, the company’s subsidiary signed an agreement with the union, allowing its members to cast their votes from September to November according to the designated time and place.
“However, some of the company’s supervisors threatened the staff not to cast votes or face the consequences,” she told reporters during a protest held by the union staff outside the company’s office building here Friday (May 17).
Sarasvathy, who is also Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) deputy chairman, alleged that the workers were also bullied and transferred from one section to the other.
She said those who wanted to attend Labour Day events were told not to do so or they would be sacked.
“We have sent complaint letters to the company and the Human Resources Ministry, and even lodged 15 police reports, but to no avail.
“It is not right to treat the cleaners that way.
"They have every right to form a union according to the law,” she added.
Sarasvathy said one worker at a hospital in Penang, who used to take care of the store, was asked to wash toilets.
In some places, she said, the workers' lunch break was divided into two sections, so that the union members could not hold meetings effectively, while some workers were threatened with termination if they joined the union.
The union’s national president K. Sentilkumaran said even he was not spared from intimidation.
Sentilkumaran, 49, who works at a hospital here, alleged that the supervisor practised favouritism.
He said sometimes if he was late by a mere 10 minutes, the supervisor would tell him to take unpaid leave and go back home.
“When we come to work, our designated cleaning area is no longer in our roster, and we are asked to clean areas wherever the supervisor tells us.
“Even overtime is only given to selected workers,” he claimed.
UEM Edgenta Berhad, the holding company of Edgenta Mediserve Sdn Bhd, said it was aware of the protest.
It added in a statement Friday that the workers were from NS Medik Sdn Bhd, a subcontractor for Edgenta Mediserve Sdn Bhd.
“As the matter involves the subcontractors and its workers, UEM Edgenta is unable to provide any comment on the matter.
“Nevertheless, the company has been actively engaging with the relevant authorities in our effort to assist NS Medik in resolving the matter with their workers,” the statement read.
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