MTUC, which represents 15 million workers, said Kulasegaran did not allow the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC), which comprises the MTUC and the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF), to discuss and reach a joint solution to the amendments of the Industrial Relations Act 1967.
“The minister has taken a very arrogant and militant-like approach in dealing with our basic complaint in that he refused to allow the NLAC to discuss and reach joint solutions on the proposed amendments to the Industrial Relations Act before tabling them in Parliament.
“This was the promise he had made at one of the NLAC meetings,” said MTUC, claiming that the minister did not keep this promise.
MTUC also warned Kulasegaran and top ministry officials to immediately cease “issuing half-baked statements that do not address his unilateral actions in tabling bad laws at the current Parliament sitting”.
On Saturday, the Human Resources Ministry denied claims by MTUC that it did not consult with the body or employers’ groups over the labour law amendments, saying that discussions started as early as December last year.
“The draft amendments to Act 177 were presented and discussed with MTUC and MEF, separately, on Aug 26 at Putrajaya.
“Views from both MTUC and MEF were taken into consideration and only a month later, on Sept 26, that the final text of the amendments was submitted to the Attorney General’s Chambers and a copy of the text was extended to all NLAC members,” it said.
The ministry also stressed that the amendments did not need the endorsement of these groups as the only requirement was consultation.
“The ministry hopes the above explanation will put to rest unwarranted claims by the MTUC and MEF that the amendments need to be endorsed by them,” it said.
However, MTUC said that while Kulasegaran’s stand was that his ministry was not duty-bound to get endorsements from the NLAC as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 144 on Tripartite Consultant (C144) only spoke about consultation, social dialogues must be “effective and meaningful”.
ILO defined tripartite consultation as “the interaction of the government, employers and workers (through their representatives) as equal and independent partners to seek solutions to issues of common concerns,” noted MTUC.
“MTUC’s stand is that the NLAC was never used as an effective forum of consultation on the labour law reforms as intended by C144.
“We also stand by our statement that the minister undermined the NLAC and unilaterally handed a set of bad laws to Parliament for approval on Oct 7 and 9.
“All the spin put into the statements by Kulasegaran and his officials has failed to debunk this,” it said.
The amendments to the labour law were not groundbreaking and did not reflect the wishes or aspirations of their respective members and affiliates of NLAC, said MTUC.
It also accused Kulasegaran of giving misleading statements and that he has yet to respond to MTUC’s challenge to make the minutes of the NLAC meeting public.
“By making the minutes public, the public can easily judge if indeed ‘effective and meaningful’ consultations were carried out by the ministry in accordance with C144 which the ministry refers to,” said the MTUC.
Did you find this article insightful?