The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is looking into a complaint filed by the National Union of Bank Employees (Nube) over the alleged violation of trade union and workers' rights in the country.
Nube secretary-general J Solomon said that the union took this course after its complaints against the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) were ignored or overlooked by the Human Resources Ministry.
Solomon alleged that the ministry had not enforced its collective bargaining agreement with the bank, nor had it stopped HSBC from outsourcing work at the expense of Malaysians, or protected Nube’s right to negotiate with the bank.
“The ILO had written to the government earlier this month requesting an explanation over its handling of the HSBC disputes. The government will face the ILO committee on freedom of association, an internal judiciary system on the ongoing dispute between Nube and HSBC.
“The supervisory committee will assess the failures of the government and make recommendations to resolve the dispute. It will also make the necessary proposals to respect trade union and workers' rights,” he said in a statement today.
According to Solomon, the claims that the ILO will look into are the Human Resources Ministry’s alleged failure to:
1. Enforce a collective agreement signed between Nube and HSBC;
2. Allow union members to be able to carry out demonstrations and picketing in furtherance of the dispute;
3. To stop harassment, intimidation and termination of union members by HSBC;
4. To protect the rights of Nube to carry out negotiations and collective bargaining with HSBC;
5. To stop HSBC carry out outsourcing and other activities by HSBC in complete disregard to the collective agreement signed which obliged HSBC to negotiate with Nube before taking any such action;
6. To initiate dispute settlement and the refusal by the Industrial Court to recognise an agreement signed between Nube and HSBC
Solomon accused HSBC of arrogant and brutal behaviour and lamented that the Human Resources Ministry had not intervened to prevent the matter from escalating.
Last month, a war of words broke out between Solomon and Human Resources Minister M Saravanan after Solomon claimed that the minister had displayed arrogance in ignoring Nube despite it having raised a huge number of pertinent issues.
Solomon said Nube had been appealing to Saravan since Nov 12, 2000, to intervene in the matter.
"Unfortunately, he has remained silent about it and refuses to respond to Nube and did not exercise his authority, which is in the collective agreement to stop such abuses.
"Numerous reminders have been sent to him but we have not received any response from him on our appeal," he added.
Solomon alleged that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had written to Saravanan on Dec 16 to act on the complaint.
"We, too, reminded him of the prime minister’s directive but Saravanan has refused to respond to Nube till now. He should not ignore workers’ sufferings," said Solomon, adding that ministers needed to be reminded that their function is to serve the people.
Saravanan, in turn, was dismissive of Solomon's claims, saying that the latter appeared to be unaware of the ministry's work.
"If Solomon doesn't know what we are doing, then he can't blame me. We are in touch with HSBC with regard to the workers' issue," he said.
He added that if Solomon wanted details on his ministry's involvement, he should visit the director-general of the Labour Department.