Call on Fong Chan Onn to give personal and immediate attention to end the disgrace and shame in industrial relations – the three-year NUBE leadership crisis which has left  its 28,000 members in the lurch without  union protection and security

Media Conference Statement
after a two-hour dialogue between the DAP Parliamentary Human Resources Committee and MTUC/trade union leaders at the MIEU headquarters
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): Today is the first of a series of many regular consultations the DAP parliamentary team will hold with various players of the civil society as part of the process to prepare DAP MPs for the forthcoming parliamentary meeting as well as to involve greater public participation in the national decision-making process. 

The 12 DAP MPs have been assigned various portfolios for them to specialize and to  be knowledgeable and informed about the major issues associated with the subjects – not to be a shadow cabinet, as it would be very  presumptuous for DAP, with only five per cent of parliamentary representation, to behave as if it is the  government-in-waiting.   

The DAP MPs will  set up committees for the various portfolios, comprising party and non-party people, both to educate the party and the public, as well as to involve greater public involvement in the nation’s decision-making process through public dialogues, consultations, seminars, etc. 

The first DAP parliamentary committee to be formed is on human resources which is headed by DAP Acting Secretary-General and MP for Ipoh Barat, M. Kulasegaran, and today’s consultation with MTUC and trade union leaders is the first of many regular consultations DAP MPs will hold with civil society players in the next five years. 

Today, DAP wishes to serve notice on the Human Resources Minister, Datuk Dr. Fong Chan Onn that labour issues and workers’ concerns will be high on the parliamentary agenda for the next five years, and he should do homework to be able to address these issues when they are  raised by  DAP MPs and not to relegate them to his Deputy Minister or parliamentary secretary. 

The two-hour dialogue the DAP parliamentary human resources committee held with MTUC and trade union leaders led by MTUC Secretary-General G. Rajasekaran is  most useful, productive and fruitful as it has deepened the  DAP MPs’ understanding  of the critical labour issues which will enable them to speak with greater knowledge  and understanding on these subjects in Parliament.

The issues covered in  our wide-ranging dialogue include trade union recognition,  the Industrial Court and its failure to dispense industrial justice, the influx of foreign workers in the local job market, retrenchments,  the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC),  the EPF and the NUBE leadership crisis. 

The three-year NUBE leadership crisis is a disgrace and shame to industrial relations  in Malaysia. At one time, the NUBE was  regarded both nationally and internationally as one of the best unions in the country. But now, it is not only technically illegal,  without a lawful leadership as its  term of office had long  expired, its 28,000 members have lost union protection and security as evidenced by the expiry of collective agreements with banks and the inability to negotiate new ones, the freeze  of the union accounts and assets by the Registrar of Trade Unions,  the stoppage in the collection of union membership subscriptions and the NUBE inability to meet the members’ entitlements from its various projects like the benevolent fund. 

How can the Registrar of Trade Unions and the Minister for Human Resources, Datuk Dr. Fong Chan Onn  allow the NUBE leadership crisis to drag on for so long without finding a formula to end the crisis, by holding a proper and fresh elections among the 28,000 NUBE members to elect a new NUBE leadership. 

I call on Fong to give his personal and immediate attention to end the disgrace and shame in industrial relations in Malaysia – the protracted NUBE leadership crisis which has left 28,000 bank employees who are its members in the lurch without union protection and security, thereby causing untold suffering.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman & Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor