DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, today issued the following statement:
The Ministry of Labour should not use the red-herring of communist-infiltration of trade unions to divert attention from legitimate grievances
The Ministry of Labour and Manpower should not use the red-herring of communist infiltration of trade unions to divert attention from the legitimate grievances of workers in the spate of industrial disputes and strikes in the country.
Two days ago, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and Manpower, Encik Ramli bin Omar, after a two- hour tour of the Food Specialities Malaysia factory in Petaling Jaya, said that communists have infiltrated into some trade unions and are fomenting industrial strife.
This is irresponsible talk, for the government leaders should not make blanket statement and accusations, tarring all industrial disputes and strikes as communist-fomented.
It is true that there is mounting industrial unrest marked by a spate of strikes and industrial disputes in the industrial areas in the country. A study of these disputes will show that they stem from two causes:
(i) Refusal on the part of managements to recognise trade unions as a necessary partner in the business enterprise, and management attempt to crush trade unions by victimising, intimidating and even dismissing unionists.
(ii) The refusal on the part of management to help restore the purchasing power of the workers, whose incomes have been greatly slashed as a result of the steep inflation in the country.
Managements can easily pass off the increased costs to the consumers, and in the process, even making bigger profits. Workers, however, are stuck with their fixed wages, whose purchasing power dwindles from day to day.
The Ministry of Labour and Manpower, should therefore give deeper study to these two main causes of industrial disputes, and solve them, instead of blaming so-called communist infiltrators for the industrial strife in the land.
The Ministry of Labour and Manpower should be a ministry to help workers against management exploitation, and not to help the employers to exploit the workers. It is in this regard that it is highly regrettable that the Minister of Labour, Tan Sri Manickavasagam, has not yet used his personal position to effect settlement to the long-standing disputes such as the strikes at Thung Pao, Sharikat Ong Yoke Lin, Solai Press, and uphold the rights of workers.