KUALA LUMPUR, May 1 — It may have been symbolic, but the presence of Human Resource Minister M. Kulasegaran alongside the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) in its Labour Day celebration in Subang Jaya, Selangor today likely bolstered the dignity of the country’s bottom tier workforce.
It was the first time in decades that a member of the Cabinet deigned to participate in the unions’ march.
A video of the street rally outside Wisma MTUC was uploaded on the minister’s Facebook page, showing Kulasegaran at the head of the pack amid chants of “hidup pekerja” issuing from loudspeakers atop a moving pickup truck.
In his opening speech, Kulasegaran pledged to the workforce how he and his ministry are working to amend seven Acts affecting the workforce, namely fighting for the end of workplace discrimination and sexual harassment.
“There will be no tolerance of any sort of discrimination against women in the workplace, we are ensuring of that through our labour law amendments.
“Sexual harassment will be specifically addressed in these amendments,” he said. A text copy of the speech was made available to the media.
Kulasegaran also promised more effort from his ministry to put women back in high numbers into the workforce, while also urging employers to pay special attention and be inclusive towards the disabled community and those above the age of 60.
He also highlighted during his speech on the current worry of underemployment among youth, saying a realignment of skills should be on the cards, while pressing on the importance of occupational safety.
“We must accept that the youth are currently suffering from underemployment, this needs to be addressed and resolved through re-skilling them based on industry demand,” he said.
“Through these amendments, we hope to also update the Occupational Safety and Health Act to ensure efficient enforcement to reduce the number of workplace fatalities and injuries.
“No worker should be subjected to high risk when they are at their workplace,” he added.
Kulasegaran then told those present at the rally today to increase overall productivity, and up-skill and re-skill themselves to remain relevant with the automation and digitisation of industries.
“Malaysians must be ready for the digital future; we will ensure you are fully equipped.
“We will ensure there are enough grants and funding to assist the re-skilling and up-skilling process, which is the government’s commitment for lifelong learning,” he pledged.