Trade unions are vital for the labour movement as they help balance the power that employers have over individual workers. As such trade union unity is vital because it provides workers the means to come together with a powerful, collective voice, to communicate to management their dissatisfaction and frustration.
Irrespective of whether the oppression is to all workers or just one worker, we need to ensure our solidarity at all times, because Unity is Strength. Indeed, a core strength of a union lies in its members’ ability to support each other in times of adversity. Through their collective voice, union members benefit from better social protection as they earn better wages and benefits than non-union workers.
Unions give workers the power to elect their leaders and mandate them to negotiate for more favourable working conditions and other benefits through collective bargaining as such individual workers do not have to beg their employers, to protect their human rights. Unions take on the ongoing process of educating members on their rights and responsibilities, regularly.
It is essential that the Union leaders are well equipped with negotiation skills, to negotiate with the employers, over issues that are crucial, urgent, and relevant to workers’ livelihood.
Arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, globally, it has become more evident that working people, including professionals, see the need of the protection from a union now more than ever, and therefore the realisation of the importance of having a trade union and being a Union member.
In Malaysia, we have seen in the last two years, the number of workers who have been laid off arbitrarily with Covid-19 as an excuse, leading to many non-unionised workers suffering with mental trauma.
Those of us who have not felt that impact may not understand the pain and agony of being laid off or it would not even catch our attention. Whereas for union members, the Union takes all the necessary cause of action to protect their interest and negotiate with their employers.
While workers in Malaysia are not protected by the Ministry of Human Resources when employers lay off workers arbitrarily, the Government misleads the workers by claiming that it is the right of the employer. Therefore, it has become highly necessary for workers to be unionised during this pandemic, to ensure that workers are protected of their rights.
As a Union Member, it is important that we are not selfish, i.e., we do not use our Union for self-interest and ignore other members who are suffering. Regrettably, in Malaysia, the trade union movement is cursed with traitors within the fraternity and that is why we see some irresponsible employers and government officials try to undermine unions and their leaders.
In view of the current complex situation in Malaysia where some irresponsible employers manipulate and exploit workers with the support of some irresponsible government officials, we must strengthen our unity to ensure our rights are protected by the Union.
We must extend our solidarity and moral support, when even one member is being harmed mentally or physically by any irresponsible employer or government officials.
The motto of NUBE: One for All and All for One is very relevant and meaningful to ensure our Unity is always strengthened. We will work with dignity and enjoy the work we do, to bring progress not only to the Bank but also to ourselves.
UNITY HAS NEVER FAILED MANKIND!