Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP Secretary-General, Sdr. Lim Kit Siang, at the inaugural meeting of the Selangor/Federal Territory DAP Labour Bureau held at DAP Hqs on Thursday, 29th Sept. 1977 at 9.30 p.m.
DAP calls for the immediate doubling of the present three Industrial Court Divisions to six to deal with industrial disputes expeditiously and avoid denial of justice by prolonged delay
The purpose of an Industrial Court is to be able to deal with industrial disputes expeditiously, without the formal trappings of Court procedures, for the maxim ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ is even more pertinent in industrial disputed affecting questions like reinstatement.
This is why Clause 30(3) /of the Industrial Relations Act 1967 provides that “the Court shall make its award without delay and where practicable within thirty days from the date of reference to it for the trade dispute.”
This Clause is now a joke, for a worker who is dismissed unjustly and without reasonable excuse would have on average some 18 months to wait before an award is handed down by the Industrial Court. I understand that the Industrial Court is now fixing dates for as far away as May of next year – which clearly defeats the intention of Clause 30(3) of the IRA.
Protracted delays before and award is handed down by the Industrial Court is a major weakness of the Industrial Court, which diminishes its role as a dispenser of industrial justice.
To deal with the backlog of industrial disputes, and to handle and dispose of industrial disputes within the guideline provided by Clause 30(3) of the Industrial Relations Act of handing down awards within 30 days of the reference of the dispute, the present number of three Industrial Court Divisions should be immediately doubled to six Divisions.
I call on the Minister of Labour, Datuk Lee San Choon, to take immediate note of the urgency of this doubling of the number of Industrial Divisions and to take the necessary action to effect it within a period of a month or six weeks. The Government claimed to be ‘action0 orientated’ – so let us see some action on this front. I am sure it is not beyond the ability of the Government to appoint a further three Additional Industrial Court Chairmen.
With the formation of the Selangor/Federal Territory DAP Labour Bureau, with Sdr. Yusof Bador as Chairman, Sdr. Oh Keng Seng as Vice Chairman, Sdr. Matthew Ng as Secretary; and Sdr. Patrik Jaswan as Adviser, the Bureau will have the task of establishing itself in the minds of workers in Selangor /Federal Territory as a body to whom unorganised workers can turn to for help and advice when they face industrial relations problems.