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Malaysian Trade Union Congress

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The MTUC is a federation of trade unions and registered under the Societies Act, 1955. It is the oldest National Centre representing the Malaysian workers. MTUC was formed in 1949 and was originally known as the Malayan Trades Union Council. In 1958, MTUC changed its name to the Malayan Trades Union Congress, and then changed again to its current name with the formation of Malaysia.

The MTUC came into existence at a time when the First Emergency was declared against insurgent communist activities. At this critical time, workers had no organization to look after their interest, protect them and also to represent their views generally. A few union leaders who believed in free democratic trade unionism convened a conference of trade union delegates on 27th and 28th February, 1949.


1. Providing an advisory service to its members

2. Presenting the labor viewpoint to the government

3. Presenting workers' views on national issues likes development plans and education

4. Helping to organize workers who do not belong to a union

5. Providing trade union education

6. Carrying out research on matters of trade union interest

7. Representing the Malaysian labor movement at forums abroad


The supreme body of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress is the triennial delegate's conference. Affiliated unions send between 1 to 42 delegates to the conference depending on their membership. The conference, normally held over two days, scrutinizes the activities of the Congress, elects the Principal Officials and decides on policies and the action programe.

The Working Committee comprises of the principal officer bearers who are the President, Deputy President, Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General, Finance Secretary, Deputy Finance Secretary and 11 Vice Presidents. Out of the 11, 6 Vice-Presidents are elected representing private sector unions, 3 representing public sector unions and 3 representing statutory bodies. The chairperson of the Women's and Youth wings, who are elected at the women's and youth delegates conference respectively, are also recognized as Vice-Presidents and sit on the Working Committee. The Working Committee implements the decisions of the Delegates Conference and the General Council


On July 2010, the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2010 was tabled before the Malaysian Parliament. The Bill seeks to amend existing employer obligations prescribed by the Malaysian Employment Act 1955 as well as to introduce new ones.

For background, employees in Malaysia are generally divided into 2 broad categories which are those who come within the field of the Employment Act and those who are outside of the act. An Employment Act employee refers to any person under a contract of service and whose monthly wages do not exceed RM1,500 irrespective of occupation, or those engaged in specified work regardless of their wages.

The EA provides for minimum statutory protection through minimum levels of various employee benefits including termination notice, termination benefits, annual leave, hours of work, sick leave and so on. Any agreement seeking to impose benefits which are less favorable will not be enforceable. The benefits of non-EA Employees are governed only by the contract of employment.

Primarily, the amendments to the Employment Act focus on:

- Payment of wages to Domestic Servants must be made into their bank accounts.

- Registration of employee details by sub-contractors for labor.

- Notice and details relating to foreign workers to be given to the Director-General of Labor.

- The requirement for defined procedures to be followed relating to complaints of Sexual Harassment.

- September 16 - Malaysia Day to be gazette as a mandatory Public Holiday

Human Resources Ministry had previously said it had consulted unions and employers' associations 18 times since early 2010 before coming up with the amendments. Last October 2010, the ministry withdrew the Bill from the second reading to incorporate several changes and add further amendments but has refused to furnish further details. The Bill was first tabled on July 8, 2010 and touched on provisions involving sexual harassment at the workplace and the welfare of housekeepers. It is believed the laws scheduled to be amended include the Employment Act 1955, Industrial Relations Act 1967 and the Trade Union Act 1959.

One of the amendments in the Employment Act is to require contractors for labor to register with the Human Resources Ministry. Contractors for labor act as intermediaries between companies seeking labor and the workers themselves. Workers hired by contractors of labour also often face difficulties in joining trade unions, thus the new amendments are also seen as undermining the workers' ability to negotiate for better terms and conditions of employment.

The MTUC went ahead with its picket outside Parliament on 3rd October 2011 to protest proposed amendments to the Employment Act and to express their disappointment with the proposed. During the picket, MTUC president Mohd Khalid Atan said he had briefed the Human Resources Minister and handed him a letter expressing their grievances at a meeting at the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) during the meeting. Mohd Khalid had expressed concern that the proposed amendment would not properly protect the rights of contract laborers, adding that the Bill should not go through as it had not been tabled or deliberated at the NLAC. The proposed amendments were not in the interests of workers and the government had failed to engage trade unions before moving forward with the changes.

MTUC recommends that all workers regardless of whether they are hired under contractors for labour or not, should be regarded as employees of the principal company. MTUC is also dissatisfied over other amendments such as the one regarding the payment of workers' wages. Previously, the Act required that employers pay workers within 7 days after a wage period had ended. This was inclusive of additional payments for overtime. However, under the new amendments, employers



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