Just like other Malaysian trade unions, the National Union of Workers in the Shoe Manufacturing Industry Peninsular Malaysia (NUWSMIPM) was started as an enterprise union.
In 1969, Bata shoe workers organised a massive strike in Klang to express their dissatisfaction with the employer, among other issues, the piece-rated wage system of the company. The strike was led by “35 shoe union” leaders from Johor Bahru.
Eventually, Bata Shoes Employees Union (BSEU) was officially registered in the same year. The union founders were Hussin Kusan, Kamaruzaman, Yin Chew Chai, Yeap Yin Ling and others.
Bata is among the earliest investors of manufacturing industry in Malaya. The Klang factory of Bata Shoe Company (Singapore) Limited was established as early as in 1936.
In the ensuing years, BSEU actively organised more shoe factories, the organising effort led to formation of National Union of Workers in the Shoe Manufacturing Industry Peninsular Malaysia (NUWSMIPM) in 1975. Those organised companies were :
- Bata Shoe (Malaya) Sdn. Bhd. (Products : Rubber footwear, now closed)
- Intercontinental Rubber Product, Butterworth (Products : Casual, canvas, school shoes, Now closed)
- Kulit Kraf, Petaling Jaya (Products : Combat boots, leather shoes)
- Sepatu Timur, Kelantan (Products : combat boots, leather shows)
- Permada, Alor Setar (Products : Casual and school shoes, now closed)
Struggle and Milestone
The main objective of NUWSMIPM is fighting for better wages, benefits and social security scheme for its members, consisting of manufacturing workers, clerical and administrative staffs.
The first collective agreement (CA) was signed with Bata in 1970s. NUWSMIPM successfully and gradually changed the piece-rate wage system to weekly wage, bi-monthly wage until monthly wage. The struggle took about 20 years.
After the union fought for cost of living allowance (COLA), companies agreed to provide extra RM30 COLA for union members. Regarding year-end bonus, The CAs stipulated principle of proportion in accordance to workers’ performance, which ranged from 0.5 months to 2.1 months.
In Bata, a special gratuity would be paid to workers upon retirement. But workers could choose to change the gratuity to additional 4 per cent contribution of Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), that was on top of the 10 per cent contribution of the employer.
For NUWSMIPM, there are pros and cons of minimum wage system. After the implementation of minimum wage in Malaysia in 2012, many employers assume minimum wage as “maximum wage”. Once giving the minimum wage, the management refused to increase shoe workers’ wage in the following years.
On the other hand, with the influx of cheap shoes from other developing countries and declining market demand of locally made shoes, the government should utilise its procurement policy to give more jobs to local shoe companies, such measure will stimulate the growth of local industry and bring benefits for local workers.
Considering that shoe industry is a “sunset” industry in Malaysia, amalgamation of NUWSMIPM and other similar industrial unions could be a possible path that worth to further explore in the future.
The list of NUWSMIPM executive committee members is as follows :
President : Jamaludin Ariffin
Vice President : Ramlan Daud
General Secretary : Mimi Riyanti Romli
Assistant G.S. : Norhamizah Abd Hamid
Treasurer : Ahmad Mustapa Ibrahim
Exco : Azmi Don & Razlan
Address : No. 6, Lintang Sungai Keramat 10E Taman Klang Utama, Jalan Kapar 42100 Klang, Selangor, Malaysia.
Tel : (+60)3-74933317
Fax : (+60)3-74933368
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org