Speech by Ketua Pembangkang and DAP Secretary- General, Lim Kit Siang, when speaking at the formation of the Perak DAP Labour Bureau in Ipoh on Saturday, 27th August 1977.
DAP wants legislation to prohibit Industrial Relations Officers and Commissioners of Labour from taking up appointments as Management Personnel Officers for the first five years after leaving government service.
The formation of the DAP Labour Bureau marks another step in the DAP fundamental commitment to the cause of Labour.
The task of the DAP Labour Bureau is to continue to identify labour problems, highlight the grievances of the workers and to champion the cause of the toiling masses.
The workers of Malaysia have suffered a raw deal in the 20 years since Independence. More and more restrictive laws have been passed to curb and check the freedom of workers to organize and protect their legitimate interests.
This is why on June 3 this year, the 13- million strong International Metalworkers Federation based in Geneva had lodged an official complaint against the Malaysia Government to the International Labour Office(ILO) for following “a policy of fragmentation and artificial splitting up of the metal workers’ unions of the country, enforcing forms of organization contrary to the will and free choosing of workers, thus providing unfair advantages to employers, weakening the workers’ bargaining power and violating Convention No. 87 of the I./L.O” The I.L.O. is expected to investigate and make a finding which will be received world- wide.
The reason for the consistent anti-labour attitude of the Barisan Nasional, and formerly Alliance, government is very simple. For the last 20 years, the ruling parties represent the interests of feudalists, capitalists and compradors, who do not understand or have any sympathy for the aspirations of the working class to have a rightful place in our society. There has not been a single Cabinet Minister in the last 20 years whose roots are to be found in labour.
This is why the government have had no compunction about enacting legislation which bind the workers hand- and- foot even tighter.
This is also the reason why union leaders are banned from holding political office, while there is no similar ban on managements and capitalists from wielding real political power from behind the scene.
A special study is needed in Malaysia as to how managements and capitalists, through their wealth and influence, control political decision making.
This is why trade unions and workers are very skeptical about the independence of Industrial relations Officers and Commissioners of Labour, many of whom appear to be management spokesmen rather than impartial conciliators or mediators.
There have been too many instances of Industrial Relations Officers and Commissioners of Labour who leave their positions to join the Management side workers doubt the role of these Ministry Officer. I have not come across a single case of these officers joining the unions.
To restore workers’ confidence in the impartiality and integrity of Industrial Relations Officers and Commissioners of Labour and to banish once and for all the suspicion entertained by so many workers and trade unions that the Industrial Relations Officers or Commissioners of Labour are in collusion with management groups, I propose that legislation be passed to prohibit industrial Relations Officers and Labour Commissioners from taking up appointments as Management Personnel Officers for the first five years after leaving government service.