Year 2017 is coming to a close and in a few days, we will be counting down to greet 2018. Having gained all the experiences over the past 12 months, we must thank God for giving us the life to live through 2017.
As workers and union members, we have historically played a crucial role in defending human rights and workers dignity, however, directly or indirectly; knowingly or unknowingly we have contributed to the decline of the environment that we live in, today.
Stumbling blocks are put in place to curb Union growth, impede workers’ growth and stifle workers’ rights, so as workers and Union members therefore, we need to be realistic of the growing challenges that we, as workers face in Malaysia.
Malaysians workers are being replaced by migrant workers and easy exploitation of undocumented migrant workers are consequent to suppression of wages for local workers.
Permanent jobs are being transformed into informal precarious jobs and leading to tenure of insecurity and lack of social protection.
The escalating cost of living has caused many to live on borrowed income and this is further compounded by the dim prospect of closing the wage disparity gap between top management and low wage earners who are the real workhorse of the nation despite their stagnated salaries.
In more recent years, the blatant disregard for Unionised workers, being bulldozed out of their jobs by digitalisation and the government’s haste in implementing this without properly equipping students and workers to stay relevant in the job market, is very worrying.
This is why workers must always push to stay relevant by up-skilling in preparation for future of work subsequent to Industrial Revolution 4.0 which if unprepared will cause total disruption to our livelihood.
Discrimination of students and workers based on race and religion is used as a tool to keep society preoccupied, running in circles rather than moving forward despite the potential of a bright economy. The same tool is used to over politicise issues further disrupting peace and growth in the country.
Sadly, the government’s lack of genuine engagement has further escalated Workers’ issues whilst the boundless Malaysian wealth within our boundaries, airspace, land and sea providing enough to be distributed equitably as opposed to the current practice of filling only a few pockets.
We must remember that there will be no good society if there is no good Unions and a good Union is a Union that transforms daily, organises all workers so that every rejected stone in the economy, becomes corner stone.
We need to recognise that our efforts to protect and preserve the environment needs a genuine wind of change to shift from capitalist globalisation that has failed the working class of the world to a system that has everyone’s interest at the heart of every activity.
Government and Employers who are part of the tripartite constituents need to genuinely fulfill their obligations in ensuring sustainable development for all stakeholders as it is visible that the wealth of Malaysia is not equitably distributed to the majority who are workers instead it is in the hands of the few.
We have come too far as a nation to pretend or ignore injustices around us and as workers and union members, we have proven time and again that we are strong when we are united in our actions.
Disunity and envy among union leaders; among workers; among local and foreign workers is much desired by the capitalist, to keep our unity loose and our movement weak, because together we can overcome all the challenges as we are almost half of the Malaysian population.
As we come to the end of 2017, let us make a mark here as a turning point for workers by studying first, our own reflections to venture a glimpse of our future generations, that will spur us to correct this lopsided environment and bring wealth and peace back to all Malaysians as opposed to the few who enjoy it now.
To all Christians who are working in Malaysia irrespective of which country you are from, I wish you a very Merry Christmas filled with love, peace and joy.
To all Malaysians and migrants who are working in Malaysia I wish you happy holidays and a better 2018 for everyone.
MALAYSIAN TRADES UNION CONGRESS