The first recognized electronic union in Malaysia
January 27, 2011
Malaysian electronics workers secure union rights
The newly formed Electronics Industry Workers' Union (Southern Region) successfully campaign to secure union rights at ST Microelectronics in Muar, Malaysia
MALAYSIA: January 27, 2011 was a victorious day in the long struggle of the Malaysian electronics workers to join a union of their choice. An historic milestone was reached when ST Microelectronics workers, a majority of them women workers, voted in favour to join the newly formed Electronics Industry Workers' Union (Southern Region).
The journey to this struggle started on the August 2, 2010, when the union served claim for recognition at this electronics transnational corporation (TNC) which is located in the coastal town of Muar, where many other electronics TNCs have established manufacturing operation for a long time.
The management, instead of recognizing the union, sought to challenge its membership status. In the pending period the management resorted to all forms of anti-union tactics, including attempts to register a company controlled in-house union.
With concerted assistance from the International Metalworkers' Federation, the union foiled the company's attempts, thus paving the way for the workers to vote for union representation. Out of a workforce of about 2700 workers, slightly more than 1700 turned up to vote, with the union succeeding in securing 57 per cent of votes in favour of the union.
IMF General Secretary Jyrki Raina wrote to the CEO of this company and received an assurance that the company would respect local labour laws and practices and ensure workers' rights are respected.
On the morning of the balloting, the police and local authorities attempted to disrupt the union from gathering outside the factory where balloting was conducted by the Ministry of Human Resources. IMF Regional Representative Arunasalam intervened and met the company's Human Resources Director, and following that the pressure from the police and local authorities reduced.
The results of the balloting were announced at 12:30am on January 28 and the union leaders who had waited since early morning hugged each other and jumped in joy. Mohd Salleh, the main coordinator of the union, expressed thanks and appreciation to the IMF for assisting in securing trade union rights in this company. He said that without IMF's assistance the union could have faced severe setbacks in its quest to represent the workers. He stressed, that since majority of the workers have voted in favour of the union, the company should recognise the union without any further delay.Jan 31, 2011 – P. Arunasalam