Plantation workers to get new agreement on wages after court dismisses employers’ appeal


PUTRAJAYA: After nine years struggling for employment benefits, a fresh collective agreement on wages and employment term of more than 5,000 palm oil and rubber plantation workers of Dynamic Plantations Berhad and IOI Corporation Berhad is finally on the way.This follows the Federal Court’s decision in dismissing the final appeal by the two plantation companies over the demand of the National Union of Plantation Workers (NUPW), for the plantation workers, to negotiate a new collective agreement, after the existing one expired on Jan 1, 2000.

Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi, who led the panel comprising of Justices Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin and Datuk Mohd Ghazali Mohd Yusoff, unanimously held that Dynamic Plantations and IOI Corporation, as the appellants, were bound to recognize NUPW as a party representing their workers, into the negotiation.

The court also ordered the appellants to pay cost of RM80,000 to the Ministry of Human Resource, as the first respondent, and the NUPW as the second respondent in the appeal.

Justice Zulkefli, in his written judgment made available to the media yesterday, held that the appellants had by conduct recognized the NUPW as the trade union of their employees by participating as a member in the employers’ trade association known as Malayan Agriculture Producers Association (MAPA), although the appellants then withdrew their membership from MAPA.

“The collective agreements were negotiated and entered into by MAPA on behalf of the appellants. The appellants were expressly named as consenting members of MAPA for the agreements.

“There was not just one collective agreement but a series of five in succession, each after the previous term had expired and replaced by a new collective agreement.

“The appellants’ contention that though they were bound by such collective agreements at the material time and yet they never recognised the second respondent, is untenable,” said Justice Zulkefli.

In the judgment, he also said that it was the policy and purpose of the Industrial Relations Act (IRA) that once recognition is given, there can be no withdrawal of the recognition.

The appellants were members of MAPA since 1983 and withdrew their membership on May 23, 2000.

Prior to their withdrawal as members of MAPA, the appellants were bound by the collective agreements entered between MAPA and NUPW by reason that they were members of MAPA at the material time. — Bernama