KUCHING | Malaysia Trades Union Congress (MTUC) Sarawak welcomes the tabling of amendments to the Industrial Relations Act (IRA).

MTUC Sarawak secretary Andrew Lo noted that the long overdue amendments will be a game changer to facilitate the development of more effective unions and a more robust industrial relations system, which are currently heavily skewed towards employers, in line with the shared prosperity vision that targets a higher workers’ share of the economy.

He observed that the Ministry of Human Resources (MoHR) has held very comprehensive and robust consultations not just with the principle stakeholders – MTUC and Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF), but other workers, employer’s groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), as well as sought technical advice from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and studied other countries’ systems.

“The National Labour Advisory council has conducted numerous technical committee meetings all over the country and discussions are transparent, robust, detailed though invariably heated, as MTUC and MEF represent conflicting interests.

“It is not easy to reach a consensus. In this regard, the government, being elected by the people, has to play its role to decide what is the best way forward. We also need to take into account the views of various government agencies involved in the process.

“We must accept that not all proposals by stakeholders can be adopted especially if it is opposed by the employers,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Although MTUC Sarawak is disappointed that not all MTUC’s proposals are reflected in the amendments, it is, nevertheless, optimistic that the amendments will be far more positive for workers and the labour movement, the economy, and country.

Lo said MTUC Sarawak will continue to work with MoHR to move forward.

“In this regard, we are disappointed that the Sarawak state government has continued to refuse to have consultations with workers on amendments that affect the state.

“We call on MEF to move away opposing any benefits for workers. We are well aware of their undying opposition to increase in retirement age, minimum wage, and Employment Insurance System (EIS).

“With EIS, at least now, workers of Utusan Melayu who lost their jobs will have some payments to lessen the burden. We are also embarrassed by the recent decision to vote against the Convention Concerning Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work,” he said.

Lo added that moving into the digital economy, long-antiquated regressive policies must be thrown out and, instead, there is need to adopt international best practices in line with the Shared Prosperity Vision.

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