The Paper and Paper Products Manufacturing Employees’ Union (PPPMEU) was founded by Malaysian paper workers in 1964. It started with 1-2 plants at that time but after the first plant, they kept on going and organized workers at other paper plants.
One important battle in the history of PPPMEU is organising workers at one paper plant. The union successfully registered members at the workplace and won secret ballet exercise in 2003. Nevertheless, the company challenged the decision in the high court and court of appeal. PPPMEU emerged as winner only after 15 years of the legal battle.
The first collective agreement (CA) was inked in June 2018. These sorts of delay tactics is deplorable, it is very frustrating for both workers and unionists, but PPPMEU and its members are persistent to fight for their rights, giving up is not an option.
PPPMEU have around 20 CAs as for now, two CAs were signed with multinational corporations; Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and Kimberly Clark (KC).
One achievement was signing a ground-breaking CA on contract and agency labour (CAL) with Kimberly Clark’s plant in Kluang, Johor in 2011. This was done with the assistance of International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions (ICEM).
Immediately after the agreement came into effect, 130 of 180 contract workers at Kimberly Clark joined PPPMEU. Contract workers are now entitled to social security benefits, pension scheme, bonus, holiday and annual leave. The concluded CA also promise a 6 per cent wage increase retrospective to 1 January 2011 to all 500 workers.
Since then the cooperation between Kimberly-Clark workers have continued and they stand in solidarity with each other’s struggles all over the globe.
In addition, a paper company insisted to have two separate CAs for local and migrant workers. But we stood by our principle that there should only be one CA for all workers. The employer took it to the high out but end up with PPPMEU winning the case. The union is very clear that all workers including migrant workers are covered by CAs and entitled to benefits.
Challenges and milestones
For PPPMEU, workers’ education is the biggest challenge as not all workers know their rights. After providing a sort of education and training, paper workers have better understanding of their rights. Workers can start claiming their rights after realised their rights.
As mentioned earlier, legal challenge is a problem for unions. When companies disagree with terms in CAs, they refer the disputes to industrial court. As for now, the union has 8 collective agreements pending in industrial court. All these court cases are time-consuming and cost a lot of money.
Besides issues with collective agreements, there is also cases of dismissals, discrimination, non-compliance to collective agreements. PPPMEU is the only organisation that can legally represent workers at workplace and fight for their rights.
The formula of the secret ballot exercise has been a problem and needs to be reformed. Currently those do not cast their vote are considered vote against unions. Therefore, when migrant workers who do not cast their vote because they had returned to their home country, the Industrial Relations Department counts their absence as votes against unions.
PPPMEU wishes to take up the challenge of organising more young workers in paper industry. It believes the union will give them a space to develop their capacity, confidence and leadership. PPPMEU is all for transparency and closeness with members.
Today, PPPMEU has about 3,000 members in 28 factories in Peninsular Malaysia. PPPMEU is both affiliated to Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) and IndustriALL Global Union.
PPPMEU is looking forward to the 2019 amendments in the Industrial Relations Act 1967. They will keep advocating for the ratification of ILO convention 87 on Freedom of Association and the Protection of the Right to Organize. In the future, the union wants to concentrate on the small and medium industries where the workers don’t have unions.
General Secretary : Baharudin Baihakhi
Do you work in the pulp and paper sector? If yes, you can become a member at PPPMEU, please contact us immediately!
You are also welcome to meet our officials to discuss your workplace problems. Please do not hesitate to call or write us, we will do our best to help you.
Address : No. 67B Kompleks Perniagaan PKNP Medan Gopeng 5, Jalan Gopeng 31350 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Tel : (+60)5-3139095
Fax : (+60)5-3139095
Mobile : +60 11-2745 2495
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/PppmeuMalaysia/