Some unions out of step with present-day realities

  • Letters
  • Tuesday, 27 May 2003

By V.K. Chin

BASED on the recent behaviour of some of the labour leaders, it appears that some of them are still using 20th century tactics to deal with 21st century issues. 

Confrontation and not co-existence remains the order of the day. They have stuck to their old ways of thinking and refuse to accept that the present-day problems require more consultations and accommodation. 

Perhaps they deserve to be ticked off for continuing to follow ideas and methods of union leaders from the developed societies. The sad part is that even the labour movement in Western societies have become modernised while ours have remained static. 

They showed how they were completely out of step with the other organisations when they continued with their picketing over the 4.25% dividend declared by the Employees Provident Fund for 2002. 

While the majority has accepted that under the present difficult conditions, the EPF could only afford to pay this dividend without damaging its finances, some of the unions preferred to swim against the tide. 

Dividends are based on revenue from investments and it is a reality that it has become more difficult to make a decent return from existing sources of such income. 

What is disturbing is that the MTUC for example, is demanding that a 5% dividend be paid as it feels that the EPF can afford this payment. 

Since the EPF is unlikely to oblige, one wonders what the MTUC intends to do to enforce its demand. 

The public will also be keen to know how the umbrella body of the trade union movement believes that such a payment is possible. Perhaps it is in possession of facts not known to the public and if so, it should share such information with the millions of EPF contributors.  

However, it would be wrong to mislead the contributors into believing that the EPF is purposely keeping the dividend low for whatever reason. 

No doubt those responsible for managing the EPF are just as keen as the MTUC to be popular by declaring a higher dividend every year. No one likes to be constantly criticised when they can enjoy public adulation. 

Unfortunately, it would be highly irresponsible for the EPF management and board to adopt such a policy just to win public support and damage the long-term interest of the contributors in the process. 

The MTUC or any trade union leadership should only make proposals that could be implemented and it should not raise the workers' hopes by championing issues, such as a RM900 minimum wage, which cannot see the light of day as it will rob the country of its competitiveness. 

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