The DAP Organising Secretary, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, today issued the following statement (23.3.1969):
The seven-week lock-out of the Central Printing Co. in Petaling Jaya is a good example of the utter helplessness of workers in the face of the unholy alliance between rapacious capital and anti-labour government against the working class.
When management and the government team up to deny the workers their fundamental rights to unionise, and to a more decent standard of living, the workers are crushed and left to their misery and suffering.
70-odd The Central Printing Co.’s Lock-out was a mass punishment of the workers of the printing firm for unionization last October and for asking for improved wages and working conditions.
The Industrial Relations Act was supposed to contain safeguards against victimization, intimidation and dismissal of workers by employers for active union work. But here is a case of victimization not of one worker, but of all workers – because they decided to form a union.
What has the Labour Ministry done to help the workers? Nothing at all. The dispute was referred to the Labour Ministry by the workers the very day the lock-out took place on Jan. 29 this year.
But the Labour Ministry officials, including Mr. Lee San Choon, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, bluntly told the workers that the company was closing shop because it was facing a financial loss – and the government refused to recognise the dispute as one of lock-out and mass victimization of workers for joining a union and asking for wage increases.
But since first of this month, the Central Printing Co. had resumed printing work with new employees. If this is a genuine case of closure as a result of financial loss, surely the firm will not resume printing with new workers since the beginning of this month?
A responsible government will see to it that before the firm resumes production, it must take in the old workers it had thrown out of work since Jan. 29.
The resumption of production by Central Printing Co. confirms that its closure of Jan. 29 was a lock- out to break the union and penalize the workers who dared to ask for a more decent pay.
Yesterday, the management demolished the picket tents, and the police detained over 20 picketers. The DAP deplore the police action, and the Ministry of Labour’s failure to get for the workers a fair and just deal.
I call on the Labour Minister, Mr. V. Manickavasagam, to intervene in this matter, and to disallow the company from resuming production with new employees.
The Labour Ministry, if it is really to be a Ministry of Labour and not to be a Ministry for Employers, should get all the old workers reinstated.
We hope the Labour Minister will intervene immediately in this matter, so that fair play justice and basic fundamental rights of workers to unionise and to collective bargaining are protected and advanced , and that no employer will be allow to administer mass punishment of its workers for daring to unionise and ask for better wages and working conditions.