Minister for Human Resources Datuk
Fong Chan Onn has been inefficient, an under performer and has been
lacking in his duties as the minister of Human Resources
- on the financial estimates for the Ministry of Human Resources during the 2005 budget
by MKula Segaran
(Dewan Rakyat, Tuesday): I have submitted a motion under Parliamentary Standing order 69(9) to cut the allowances of Human Resources. The motion is for debate today.
My grounds are that the Minister Datuk Fong Chan Onn has been inefficient, an under performer and has been lacking in his duties as the minister of Human Resources.
The minister has failed in particular to address matters relating to the workers of the country.
On 10 January04 the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) submitted a memorandum to YAB Prime Minister which among other matters set out the urgent need for a quick solution on matters affecting the workers on following matters
One would have thought that the above matters are serious warranting immediate action. In fact the minister should have sprung into action to solve the labor issues. Contrary to this the Ministry hardly did any thing concrete to alleviate the problems being faced by the workers. Why the Ministry was aloof of the workers problems which have resulted in the ensuing nation wide picket?
On 27September04 my motion under standing order 18(1) to discuss the impending picket was disallowed. The reason stated by the Speaker was that matters raised in the Memorandum are being addressed by the ministry.
It has been a good many years since a ministry has been picketed on the scale which took place on the 28September04. Throughout the country hundreds of workers took to the streets demanding that the Datuk Foong act on the grievances raised in the memorandum.
It must be noted that never before there has been a very organized form of protest against a ministry in Malaysia.
The Minister of Human Resources has been negligent and has failed to resolve the problem of 30,000 Malaysian citizens who are members of NUBE
1. National Union of Bank Employees a.k.a. NUBE is a trade union representing clerical and non-clerical employees in the banking industry in Malaysia, who are also the citizen of this country.
2. Currently, there is a leadership conflict between 2 groups, respectively led by Abdul Jalil Bin Abdul Hamid and Muhammad Fauzi Bin Shamsuddin. This conflict is the result of the misuse of union funds belonging to the members of NUBE since 1994. The failure of the Ministry of Human Resources has escalated the conflict which has resulted in one group operating outside the registered office of NUBE without the support of the member but with the assistance of the ministry of human.
3. Millions of ringgit belonging to NUBE members were lost in “contra trading” stock market– Between 1994 and 1996, NUBE lost millions of Ringgit belonging to members of NUBE as a result of “contra trading” in the local stock market.
On 25.11.2001, YB Datuk Menteri vide the “The Sun” acknowledged that he had received a Memorandum from the members of NUBE. YB Datuk Menteri also made a press statement that he will meet the members and also directs the Director General of Trade Union to investigate and initiate actions against the individuals responsible for the losses.
Section 60, Trade Union Act 1959 empowers the Director General of Trade Union to take steps to recove
r the monies misused.
v Is the investigation made?
v What are the findings of that investigation and how much are the losses?
v Who are the individuals responsible for the losses?
4. NUBE lose RM 97,242.00 for an unbudgeted Dinner & Dance – In January 2002, NUBE members lodged a complaint with the Department of Trade Union Affairs regarding the misuse of members’ monies totaling to RM 97,242.
Section 60, Trade Union Act 1959 empowers the Director General of Trade Union to take steps to recover the monies misused.
v Is the investigation complete?
v What is the finding of the investigation and who are the individuals responsible for the losses?
5. Interference by the Ministry of Human Resources in the administration of NUBE - On 29.5.2002, the Director General of Trade Union registered and declared group led by Muhammad Fauzi Shamsuddin as the legitimate EXCO of NUBE despite the case pending in the Courts on conflicts between the two groups.
The registration of the group led by Muhammad Fauzi Shamsuddin caused:
a. Muhammad Fauzi Shamsuddin’s group began operation outside the registered office of NUBE WITHOUT THE MANDATE of the members.
b. Abdul Jalil Bin Abdul Hamid’s group filed a Judicial Review on the DGTU decision to register and recognise one group as bias and excess of jurisdiction.
c. The Ministry of Human Resources despite having lost the Judicial Review case at both the High Court and the Court of Appeal have gone on to appeal to the Federal Court. Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal decided that the decision by the DGTU was bias and is in excess of his jurisdiction.
d. The Collective Agreement between the Banks and NUBE cannot be carried out due to the above negligent act by the DGTU which has resulted in two (2) groups officially existing.
e. The Banks have taken a unilateral decision to stop the check off through which the member’s subscription were deducted and remitted to the registered office of NUBE.
v Why did the DGTU register and recognise one group despite the existence of an injunction and various pending cases in court regarding the leadership?
v Was the Ministry encouraging the illegal operation outside the registered office of NUBE?
v Did the Ministry of Human Resources take any steps to STOP the illegal operation outside the registered office of NUBE when complaints were made to him?
v Why are the Government’s resources, time and the people’s monies wasted in appeals despite having lost the Judicial Review at both the High Court and the Court of Appeal?
v What actions did the Ministry take to reinstate the “check-off” as promised by the Minister to the members of NUBE when he called off the picket by NUBE members? or
v Is the Ministry encouraging the end of “check-offs”?
6. Ministry of Human Resources refused the mandate of NUBE members – On 21.7.2002 NUBE members passed a resolution granting the mandate to the Abdul Jalil Bin Abdul Hamid’s EXCO to conduct an election by way of a Secret Ballot. Approximately 14,000 members out of 19,000 members in benefit elected the Principal Officer of NUBE by Secret Ballot.
To date the Ministry has not given recognition to the mandate of the members.
v What is the Ministry’s explanation for neglecting the mandate of the members of NUBE?
7. Unlawful Withdrawal of RM 1.2 million of member’s monies from frozen NUBE accounts. – On 22.2.2003, Muhammad Fauzi Shamsuddin’s group obtained an Order dated 22.2.2003 by practicing a deception on the Court. Using the Court’s Order dated 22.2.2003 they unlawfully withdrew RM 1.2 million from the frozen accounts of NUBE. They unlawfully transferred the monies from NUBE’s frozen account to personal savings accounts and withdrew the RM 1.2 million in cash.
Abdul Jalil Abdul Hamid’s group then managed to set the Order dated 22.2.2003 aside and obtained an Order of the Court against Muhammad Fauzi Shamsuddin’s group to return the monies taken. Committal proceedings are currently pending.
A report on the unlawful withdrawal was made with the DGTU.
Section 60, TUA 1959 empowers the DGTU to take steps to recover the monies misused.
v Why is there no action taken to recover the monies despite the power available?
8. DGTU directs the freezing of NUBE Accounts – On 13.3.2003 the DGTU directed Ambank Bhd to freeze the accounts of NUBE using the leadership conflict as an excuse?
v Does the Ministry have the power to freeze a trade union’s accounts?
v Did the Ministry consider the welfare and livelihood of the 33 employees of NUBE that will not receive salaries because of freezing the funds of NUBE?
9. Ministry orders an external audit on NUBE – On 13.3.2002 the Ministry appointed Messrs Zainal & Co to carry out an audit on the funds of NUBE including the unlawful withdrawal of the RM 1.2 million by Muhammad Fauzi Shamsuddin and group. The cost of the audit was 47,275.00.
When the audit was concluded, the Minister announced in the papers on 12.8.2003 and 14.8.2003 that NUBE could be deregistered since the audit report produced evidences of misuse of funds. The Minister also on 15.8.2003 announced in the paper that the DGTU would be lodging a police report on the misuse of funds. On 20.8.2003, it was reported that the DGTU had lodged a polis report on the misuse.
v What were the audit’s findings?
v What was the total misuse?
v Who is responsible?
v Why did the DGTU make a police report when he had the power under Section 60 of the TUA 1959 to recover the monies?
v What are the actions of the Ministry on the misuse of funds to date?
v What is the status of the police report lodged by the DGTU?
10. Search Warrant on NUBE– On 29.10.2003, DGTU obtains a Search Warrant and removed various accounting document from NUBE. To date these documents have not been returned.
v Why was the Search Warrant obtained?
v What was the finding obtained from the documents seized?
v Does the DGTU have the power to keep documents belonging to a trade union?
11. Fresh Election – In various meeting with MTUC Officials and members of NUBE, the Minister has repeatedly encouraged the members to obtain a Court Order that directs the DGTU to conduct NUBE fresh elections. However, during the hearing of the case, lawyers from the AG’s Office vehemently opposed the application
v Why is the reason for the inconsistency between the promise made to the member of NUBE and the stand taken by the AG’s lawyers?
12. (ILO Governing Body’s Recommendation) – AT the ILO sitting No: GB.289/9 (Part ii) 289th Session, Geneva March 2004, ILO based on the various complaints received from the trade union in Malaysia (ILO Complaint Case No: 2301) advised the Malaysian Government to accept technical assistance to help bring its law and practices into full conformity with freedom of association principles BUT the Government has refused this technical assistance.
v Why has the Government refused the technical assistance to bring the laws and practices in our country in conformity with the “principals of Freedom of Association”?
Looking at the various action of the Ministry of Human Resources, is there an ulterior motive behind them all?
v Is the Ministry conspiring to destroy NUBE? or
v Is the Ministry protecting certain individuals? or
v Is the Ministry assisting the Banks to destroy the major trade union representing 60% of the workforce in the banking industry?
It is said that it takes 12 to 24 months for a dispute to reach the Industrial court and another 12 to 24 months for the court to hear and make an award. This slow process is contrary to Section 30 (3) which states “the court shall make its award without delay and where practical within 30 days…of reference to it”. Due to this slow process workers are the eventual losers. Employers can easily avoid wage payment when they change their companies name or close down and/or cease operations cease operations. The failure and delay in appointing new Chairman’s for the Industrial courts affects all parties in the process. IC Chairman sits to decide security of tenure on workers yet they don’t seem to have security of tenure of their own office. Contract of many IC Chairman who have vast industrial court experience and who are competent are not renewed after they have attained 60 years old. Why? The retirement age of High Court Judges is 65. Why the discrimination?
Proposal to bar workman earning more the 10K from filing claims at the Industrial Court
Presently quantum of salary is not the limitation to refer claims to the Industrial Relations Department and subsequently to file a claim at the Industrial Court(IC). Datuk Fong acknowledges that there are backlog of cases which runs in the thousands awaiting to be disposed off. A few weeks ago the workers had a shock when Datuk Fong said any workmen earning more then RM10k per month are likely to loose their right to bring their dismissal cases to the IC. The minister had said this was to “prevent overloading the IC and worsening of backlog of cases” To make matters worst he said that this “highly paid workers had the financial capacity to appoint lawyers to fight their cases in the civil courts”. He also said that “most workers earning high salaries ended up appealing their cases to the high court, the ministry felt more resources should be allocated to helping those with lower wages and who could not afford expensive legal fees”.
In asserting the above the Minister has lost foresight and meaning of ‘Social justice” as stated in the Industrial Relations Act (IRA 1967)
The Minister should know that cases at the IC, a dismissed worker can seek reinstatement and back wages or in lieu compensation as deemed by the IC. How ever at a civil court the court has no power to order reinstatement but only damages.
Thus are we going to have one set of rules at the IC in unfair/unlawful dismissal cases for those whose last drawn salary was less then RM10k and another set of rules at the High Court for those whose last drawn salary was more then RM10k?
The increase flow of foreign workers in the last few years is very alarming. Employment opportunities for locals are becoming scarce. Over 15,000 workers have been retrenched last year many more through VSS and by other unfair labor practice.
The minister himself has said that the unemployment rate is increasing yet on the other hand he announces that more foreign workers would be brought in. This shows he is uncaring and oblivious of the actual situation in the country.
There is no proper control and supervision by the ministry on local employers who fail to pay wages to foreign workers on the due dates. Some foreign workers have had their work permits cancelled by employers and these workers were sent back without salary being paid. Why the Minister has done nothing on this to date?
The Minister has failed and neglected the workers. As a labor minister he should be in the fore front to champion the workers rights and enhance the workers families. The Minister should be a bit more imaginative. A over haul of the labor laws are needed. In the larger context the proactive actions of the minister will definitely be better for the country and its people. He should push for a review of the anti labor activities. He should also get rid of anti labor laws.
Finally the Human Resources minister should be the minister of labor and not a minister against labor!
* MKula Segaran, MP for Ipoh Barat