No more delay! The government must conclude and implement labour law reforms by the first quarter of 2021

Press Statement by Labour Law Reform Coalition on 11 December 2020 in Shah Alam

Labour Law Reform Coalition calls on the Perikatan Nasional government not to delay the labour law reform exercise anymore. The enactments and implementation of Industrial Relations Act 2020 (gazette in Feb 2020), Trade Union Act 1959 and Employment Act 1955 should be concluded by the first quarter of 2021.

Since September 2018, Ministry of Human Resources has published several times the ministry’s labour law proposals on its website. But until today, the government has only passed Industrial Relations Act with no implementation, Trade Union Act and Employment Act amendments have yet to be included in parliamentary schedule.
As Covid-19 pandemic continues to hit Malaysian economy and 737,500 workers unemployed in September, many workers are living in dire situation with no bargaining power with employers at workplaces, realizing workers’ right to organize through labour law reforms will protect workers from unfair treatment and to attain decent work.

We wish to remind the government that labour law reform is the key strategy to increase labour share of income from 35.7 percent in 2018 to 48 percent target aimed by the government’s Shared Prosperity Vision 2030. Delaying labour law reforms may seriously hamper the PN government’s roadmap to achieve the ambitious target in accordance to the timeline.

The Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) also supports labour law reforms to remove institutional obstacles that suppress wages of Malaysian workers and inhibit collective bargaining. BNM’s study shows that Malaysian workers’ productivity is on par with some advanced economies but our workers received only 20 percent of the fruit of their productivity. It argues that steps must be taken to strengthen workers’ bargaining rights.

For now, we give our full support to the MOHR proposals on labour law amendments, we urge the government to pass and implement all these proposals before the next general election. LLRC will commit to continuously engage with the government and push for incremental changes until the attainment of international labour standards in various aspects.

N. Gopal Kishnam
Irene Xavier
Labour Law Reform Coalition

Note : Labour Law Reform Coalition is endorsed by 58 Trade Unions from various sectors and worker organisations. The group started in June 2018 to initiate discussion on labour law reform bases on ILO’s decent work framework. The coalition had submitted proposals of reforming Employment Act 1955, Trade Union Act 1959 and Industrial Relations Act 1967 in January and May 2019 respectively.

N. Gopalkishnam is the General Secretary of National Union of Transport, Equipment and Allied Industry Workers (NUTEAIW), he is the former Secretary-General of Malaysian Trade Union Congress. Irene Xavier is a veteran social activist who founded Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor, she has been fighting for the rights of women worker for decades.