No love lost with Kulasegaran, MTUC says hopes for better ties with new HR minister

MTUC urged Saravanan to focus on developing a competent, productive, responsive and resilient human capital in the labour market to increase the national productivity. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
MTUC urged Saravanan to focus on developing a competent, productive, responsive and resilient human capital in the labour market to increase the national productivity. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 — The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) today expressed its hope for a less thorny relationship with newly appointed Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan, while unleashing an unrelenting attack on his predecessor.  

In its congratulatory message to Saravanan, MTUC included a cautionary note on how its relationship with former minister M. Kulasegaran had deteriorated following an apparent breakdown in communications.

MTUC explained the resulting friction with the former minister led to them being sidelined during decision making, alleging that Kulasegaran had bulldozed his way through several policy amendments and “bad laws” that were done without proper consultation.  

“In this context, we urge the minister to stop the excessive politicking which plagued the ministry during the tenure of his predecessor.

“We hope he starts looking after the needs of workers and their families immediately,” read the statement.

Undersigned by its secretary-general J. Solomon, MTUC’s statement explained how its rapport with Kulasegaran had faltered, especially over the last few months, after he allegedly pushed through amendments to the Industrial Relations Act without consulting relevant stakeholders.

“He failed to consult the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) where the MTUC and the MEF (Malaysian Employers Federation) are represented.

“On numerous occasions, he ignored the spirit of tripartism (sic) as contained in the ILO (International Labour Organisation) charter and attempted to dilute the role and responsibility of the MTUC,” the statement claimed.

It claimed the amendments would ultimately result in local unions becoming powerless, adding that Kulasegaran had compromised with employers and failed to protect workers’ rights.

Also included among its scathing remarks were MTUC’s own demands from Saravanan, a day after he was appointed, asking that he help improve the general plight of workers and bridge the gap of the widening inequality.

It suggested that Saravanan’s first move as human resources minister should be the decision to extend the Family Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) to those in the private sector, especially those in the B40 and M40 groups.

“We hope the minister will focus on developing a competent, productive, responsive and resilient human capital in the labour market to increase the national productivity.

“In addition, he must ensure harmonious and conducive industrial relations by listening to unions and be progressive in nature,” read the statement.

Saravanan was among those appointed as Cabinet ministers by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, when the latter unveiled the list of his federal ministers and their deputies yesterday.

Saravanan is the deputy president of MIC, a predominantly ethnic Indian political party under Perikatan Nasional.

He was formerly deputy youth and sports minister under Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration.

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