PETALING JAYA: Industrial relations lawyers said the closure of the industrial court since October has caused a backlog of cases, delaying the results and potential awards for workers.
While mentions and administrative matters such as the handing down of awards from completed trials continued, new hearings were not conducted from the implementation of the conditional movement control order (MCO) on Oct 14 until late last month, when selected cases began to be heard.
According to a Kuala Lumpur-based industrial relations lawyer, who requested anonymity to preserve his relationship with the court, all his industrial court trials in that three-month span had to be rescheduled.
He told FMT that “things have not been moving as much as they should”, with delays having a direct result on outcomes for employers and workers.
“I’ve had a few cases that could have been resolved earlier but, unfortunately, due to the instructions for the closure we have not seen them progress.”
According to another lawyer from Selangor, some other courts, such as certain civil courts, continued with trials during this period.
“For the trials I had in civil courts, the courts took turns to sit, and there were also virtual appeals,” he said.
“However, the industrial court took the stand from the beginning that as long as the MCO is in place, they would not open.”
Mohd Effendy Abdul Ghani, deputy president of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress, called for engagement between the human resources ministry, employers and workers’ groups to find a way to settle the backlog.
Effendy said workers stood to lose if there were delays, especially if the cases involved compensation for wrongful dismissal.
He said that with “so many workers being affected by the pandemic”, ensuring that cases were dealt with efficiently was of great importance.