DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, issued the following statement when visiting the Thung Pau’s journalists who are on strike.
As a former working journalist and a journalist union official, I can fully sympathise with the Thung Pau reporters who have gone on strike for the last 5 days. Unless they have exhausted all possible avenues to reach a just settlement of the outstanding issues, they would not have resorted to their ultimate weapon in going on a strike.
That the dispute had already lasted 16 months since the very formation of the Thung Pau chapel on September, 1972 is, in my view evidence to infinite patience and sense of responsibility with which the trade union officials in the National Union of Journalists and the Thung Pau chapel have tried to reach understanding with the management.
It is wrong for the Thung Pau management to regard the NUJ Thung Pau chapel as anti-Thung Pau. The principle aim of trade unions is to promote their members’ interests, and the officials of the NUJ and the Thung Pau chapel must be aware that they can do this only if Thung Pau, in which their members are employed, prosper. The Thung Pau chapel have therefore an interest in the success of the Thung Pau and essential contribution to make to it by co-operating in measures to promote its efficiency and success.
The Thung Pau management should realise that good industrial relations are joint responsibilities of the management and of employees and trade union representing them. But the primary responsibility for their promotion rests with the management, the Thung Pau management must prove to the public that they have taken the initiative in creating and developing good industrial relation with the NUJ.
The Thung Pau management must adopt modern and enlightened concept of industrial relations where the employer and the employees are partners in the development, and stop relaying solely on might and power, if it is not to completely forfeit public sympathy and support.
Let not the Thung Pau management prove the truth of the oft-repeated statement that Asian managements are even more blatant and unscrupulous in their regard of basic trade union rights of workers.
Meanwhile, the Acting Minister of Labour and Manpower, Lee San Choon must get into the thick of the Thung Pau dispute and not take a hands-off attitude as he seems to be doing.
I gather the impression that Lee San Choon as Acting Minister of Labour and Manpower seems to be biding time until Tan Sri Manickavasagam comes back and pass the buck to him. I hope I am wrong.
Lee San Choon should use his powers as Acting Minister of Labour and Manpower to get both parties to a round table conference and if necessary, he should preside over all-night sessions to solve the Thung Pau strike on just and equitable terms.
Finally, there has been suggestions that politicians are trying to capitalise on the dispute for their own ends. I want to make it clear that my colleagues and I in the DAP are only interested in two things.
1. A fair deal to the Thung Pau journalists;
and 2. A successful and prosperous Thung Pau so that it can play its full part in the Malaysian newspaper world.
If there is any way which I or my colleagues can help towards the achievement of these two objective, we are ready to be of service.