Industrial harmony is vital for economic growth and continued prosperity

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Minister of Human Resources Datuk Seri M.Saravanan

By M.Vivekananthan

“Cordial and harmonious industrial relations between employers and employees would ultimately result in better productivity and thus, leading towards the economic progress and prosperity of the country” said the Minister of Human Resources Datuk Seri M.Saravanan in his keynote address at the MAPA-AMESU 15th collective agreement inking ceremony at Shah Alam on 18 June.

“The Human Resources Ministry is firmly committed towards maintaining industrial harmony and it encourages employers and workers’ organisation to voluntarily engage each other to mutually determine the terms and conditions of employment. If need be, the Industrial Relations Department was prepared to play a role as a conciliator” he added.

“The government and I are committed to constantly improving labour standards. This is evident with the recent amendments to the Employment Act, which has widened the scope of coverage as well improved several benefits, namely relating to hours of work, maternity leave and paternity leave, to comply with international labour standards” the minister said further

The Human Resources Minister also thanked the goodwill and understanding between employers, employees and pragmatic labour policies and stressed that both MAPA and AMESU maintain the current industrial harmony to ensure strong economic growth and continued prosperity.

The Minister of Human Resources witnessed the inking of the 15th collective agreement between between AMESU (the All Malayan Estate Staff Union) and MAPA the Malayan Agricultural Plantation Association on Saturday, 18 June.

R.Jeyakumar the General Secretary of All Malayan Estates Staff Union signed the collective agreement on behalf of AMESU while MAPA was represented by its Director Mohamad Audong.

1st collective agreement was signed in February 1951 (71 years ago.) MAPA represents over 200 plantation owners and AMESU represents all clerical staff, supervisors and technical staff employed in estates and estate mills.

“I am pleased that MAPA and AMESU have managed to reconcile their differences through the process of collective bargaining, without going to Court”, the minister said further.

The Minister of Human Resources also expressed confidence that collective bargaining has allowed employers and workers’ organisations to voluntarily negotiate fair employment terms and conditions.

He reiterated that, that Malaysia is firmly committed to collective bargaining. That was the reason why Malaysia had voluntarily ratified ILO Convention 98 on Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining, as early as June 1961.

The Government fully recognises the role of labour as a key enabler in reviving the country’s economy and the government has also taken a bold step to further assist workers and stimulate the economy by implementing a new national minimum wage of RM1,500.

The recent amendments to the Employment Act, has widened the scope of coverage as well improved several benefits, namely relating to hours of work, maternity leave and paternity leave, to comply with international labour standards.

Datuk Seri M.Saravanan is firmly committed towards eliminating forced labour where the ministry had launched the National Action Plan on Forced Labour in November 2021, which sets out the policy and action framework to eliminate forced and child labour.

As a matter of fact, to cushion the financial impact to industries, the government has continued the wage subsidy programme for selected sectors, which to date has benefitted 350,000 employers and help retain 2.75 million workers.

Between 2017 and 2021, a total of 1,202 collective agreements were granted cognisance by the Industrial Courts. This year, for the first five months alone, another 133 collective agreements have been granted cognisance which indicates the high level of industrial harmony in Malaysia.

Recently the minister had made a working visit to the United State of America, where he had held discussions with the Executive Assistant Commissioner from the US Customs and Border Protection Office and the United States Department of Labour.

During the visit, Datuk Seri M.Saravanan shared the Malaysia’s initiatives to overcome all 11 indicators of forced labour.

M.Vivekananthan is Political Analyst

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