By Clement Ong
In general, Malaysian is sceptical about Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
Most of us do afraid TPPA may bring more harms than good.
However, if TPPA is implemented, it might bring positive changes to the existing employment legislations; these changes are beneficial to employees in the long run.
In the “Malaysia – United States Labour Consistency Plan” (as an annexure to Chapter 19 (Labour) of the TPPA), Malaysia has committed to amend employment legislations, which include Trade Union Act 1959, Industrial Relations Act 1967, Employment Act 1955 (which also include Sabah Labour Ordinance and Sarawak Labour Ordinance), and other related legislations.
There are significant changes with regards to trade unions. The decisions in registration, suspension and cancellation of trade union by the Director General (DGTU), is now subjected to judicial review.
At the same time, the grounds for DGTU exercising his / her discretions have also been limited or restricted substantially. Trade unions are given more flexibility in its international affiliation, as well as its own membership.
The existing Industrial Relation Act has limited the scope of collective bargaining, which have excluded employee promotion, transfer of employee, dismissal or reinstatement of employee and assignment of duties which is consistent with the terms of employment, as part of the agenda. However, these restrictions shall be abolished.
Employee also been given more leniency in industrial action, i.e. the employee shall not be punishable in the event of peaceful strikes.
Foreign employee will be treated more fairly than the present. Employer is forbidden to withhold their passports, and shall responsible for their levies. Their right to housing and freedom of movement also been ensured as part of the TPPA.
All the above changes shall be taken force before the commencement date of TPPA.