LLRC urges the Minister to withdraw police report and respect union leaders’ freedom of expression

Press Statement by Labour Law Reform Coalition on 21 May 2021 in Shah Alam

Labour Law Reform Coalition calls on the Minister of Human Resources M. Saravanan to withdraw his police report against J. Solomon immediately and respect trade union leaders’ freedom of expression on labour issues.

The Minister accused the general secretary of the National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) for slandering him in relation to suspension of the minimum workers’ housing regulation.

We urge the Minister to be more tolerant towards critics and dissents. In a democratic society, it is normal that top government officials are regularly criticised and questioned by members of the public over policy shortcomings.

It’s the responsibility of trade unions to raise workers’ issues including minimum housing standards. Swift implementation of the regulation will help the government to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

We don’t deny that there are occasions of wrongful accusations against the government. However, it is important to understand the reality of asymmetric information between the government and the public. Sometimes trade unions are desperate because there was no response at all from the government.

For instance, LLRC has posed a lot of questions to the Minister over the status of labour law reform, the Minister has not given a single response since August 2020. Will the Minister also deem our media statement slanderous if we continue to criticise the lack of progress of labour law reform?

We recommend the Ministry of Human Resources to hold regular online social dialogues with trade unions and worker organisations to exchange information on labour issues including labour law reform, this will avoid further misunderstanding and conflicts.

N. Gopal Kishnam & Irene Xavier
Labour Law Reform Coalition