Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, when addressing DAP members in Klang at a meeting of Klang Branch on Sunday, 19th March 1972 at 7 p.m. at the end of a two-day tour of Kampong Java, Sementa and Bukit Raja constituencies to see for himself the constituency and party work in the areas concerned
DAP warns of growing labour unrest in Malaysia
There has growing labour unrest throughout the country in recent months. This is evidence of the mounting discontent and unrest of the workers against the anti-labour laws in the country which deny them the right to democratically and peacefully fight for the betterment of labour interests in Malaysia.
Under the Alliance Government, legislation after legislation has been passed to further curb and control the workers and undermine their unity and solidarity, so that Malaysia will have a vast pool of cheap and docile labour to attract foreign and local capitalists.
Only in July last year, Parliament amended the Industrial Relations Act of 1967 and the Trade Unions Act of 1959 which made permanent the emergency essential labour regulations promulgated in September 1969 to completely suppress the workers. in the Parliament debate, the DAP vehemently opposed these anti-labour laws.
Workers in many sectors of the economy are paid sweated wages which could not give the workers a decent life. They also work under atrocious working conditions. Workers who try to organise themselves to ask for improved wages and better working conditions are invariably victimized, intimidated and dismissed – without redress from the Ministry of Labour. In fact, the Ministry of Labour seems to be encouraging the managements to be tough with their workers who tried to organize the unorganized workers into trade unions. This is why over the years, although the total work force had increased, the total number of workers in trade unions has fallen sharply.
Despite the oppressive labour laws, and the anti-labour attitudes of managements, the workers will continue to fight for a better economic deal for themselves. Thus, unless the workers can legitimately organize themselves into trade unions without fear of intimidation, victimization and dismissal by the managements, industrial unrest and disputes will mount in intensity throughout the country.
I will like here to warn the Government that industrial unrest will mount, multiply and intensify in the days ahead unless the Government repeal its anti-labour laws and give to the workers a new deal in Malaysian society.
The DAP gives full support to the workers throughout the country to fight for a more just and equal share in the fruits of their labour. The DAP calls on all the unorganized workers in Malaysia to come forward and organize themselves, so that they can unite with their organized working comrades to get for the workers a more equitable future.
The workers must demonstrate their unity, solidarity and seriousness of purpose. These is no better way to demonstrate the forthcoming May Day with a big show of unity, strength and solidarity – as never before in Malaysia.