KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 5): Parliament on Wednesday (Oct 5) approved the Trade Unions (Amendment) Bill 2022, which aims to allow more than one union to be formed in a single workplace, following a voice vote in the Dewan Rakyat.
Prior to the voice vote, 15 Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Government and the Opposition had discussed the Bill to amend the Trade Unions Act 1959 (Act 262).
The Bill was drafted in line with the principles of the International Labour Organization, which espouses the freedom of association and protection of the right to organise.
While the Bill allows trade unions to be more open and diverse, others have argued that the multiplicity of trade unions defeats the purpose of uniting workers under one banner and exposes trade unions to the risk of being used as a political tool.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan said in his winding-up speech at the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday that the diversity of trade unions is expected to have a positive impact, especially on workers, besides giving workers the freedom to join or establish unions according to their own choice.
“In order to ensure that the harmony of the company can be maintained, a union is allowed to limit its membership, whereby a worker who has been a member of his union, is not allowed to be a member of another trade union.
“It is the Government’s hope that with the amendment of Act 262, it will create more mature, progressive, healthy and competitive trade unions to ensure that employee benefits can be increased,” he said.
Saravanan said Act 177 of the Industrial Relations Act 1967 was first amended and approved by the Parliament on Dec 19, 2019, to ensure that only one union is given sole bargaining rights with the employer, despite the approval for the Trade Unions (Amendment) Bill 2022, which is intended to give workers the freedom to join or form unions according to their own choice.
“Accordingly, independent workers choose any union they wish to join, subject to the union’s constitution. This amendment is also to encourage workers to join trade unions and further ensure that they are represented and protected with better rights and benefits.
“In addition, it will also create healthy competition between trade unions, in the hope that the unions will strive to be in the best position in terms of administration, organising social activities, education, or welfare,” he said.
Saravanan, who was addressing trade union diversity and multiplicity issues raised by other MPs, said the Ministry of Human Resources agrees with Ipoh Barat MP, M Kulasegaran’s statement, which espouses the effort to increase trade union membership among local and foreign workers and further improve workers’ protection and welfare.
Kulasegaran had earlier raised the issue related to the establishment of a foreign workers’ trade union, which he claimed will reduce the incidence of forced labour in the country.
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