MTUC seeks to increase in-house employees’ unions in Sarawak

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Gerawat (front sixth right) in a group photo with the representatives of unions in the state. He is flanked by Zaidi and Chung.

KUCHING (Dec 6): The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) Sarawak aims to increase the number of in-house employees’ unions (EUs) in the state.

MTUC Sarawak secretary Chung Fui San said the union is appealing to the Sarawak government’s Labour Unit to support the formation of in-house EUs.

According to her, EUs are the pulse of any organisation or company in the effort to improve productivity.

“With the union in place in the organisation, the welfare of employees would be well taken care of, providing them with equal rights when carrying out duties, and ensuring abuses on any of them can be avoided,” she said in a statement issued after MTUC’s courtesy call and meeting with Deputy Minister in the Sarawak Premier’s Department (Labour, Immigration and Project Monitoring) Datuk Gerawat Gala on Monday.

When contacted for clarification, she said private companies are most welcome to set up in-house EUs.

“MTUC Sarawak is targeting to increase the number of in-house EUs in private organisations,” she said.

So far, she said there are 34 in-house EUs in the private sector, 25 in the public sector, and 11 at statutory bodies in Sarawak.

She noted there has been no new formation of in-house EUs in the state for a long period.

On Monday, national MTUC president Zaidi Nasar led 19 representatives from 17 in-house EUs based in Sarawak – from both private or public sectors – to meet up with Gerawat.

They had proposed the Sarawak government allow various government departments and agencies to set up their respective in-house EUs even if the departmental joint council has been established within.

Chung said the level of awareness on the need and urgency to set up in-house EUs among employers and employees is still very low in Sarawak and most employers opposed their formation.

According to her, Gerawat said the state government, in principle, supports the amendment on the Sarawak Labour Ordinance (SLO) to ensure that the benefits afforded by the Employment Act 1955 are applicable to private employees in Sarawak.

Previously the move to amend the SLO was hindered by various restrictions involving legislation and compliance with federal law.

He added it may be presented to Parliament in the first quarter of 2024.

According to Chung, Gerawat had advised all affected parties to be calm and patient while waiting for the amendments to the SLO.