Saturday, May 2, 2009

Former PM calls for industrial harmony to weather any crisis

PORT DICKSON: Trade unions and employers have been told to always give priority to the spirit of muafakat (cooperation) if they wished to see industrial harmony prevail in the country.

Former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said they would be able to weather any crisis if they believed in the spirit of “give and take” and respect for one another.

“Being confrontational does not benefit anyone. And if you are prepared to sit down and discuss issues, then I don’t see why the good industrial ties we have in this country would not prevail,” he said at an appreciation dinner organised by the National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE).

Also present at the event to mark Labour Day was Abdullah’s wife, Tun Jeanne Abdullah.

Abdullah said both worker groups and employers should be responsible and make collective decisions if they wished to prosper.

“Workers and employers need one another. “If our workers are a happy lot, productivity would be good...likewise, workers need to give their best to be rewarded by their bosses,” he said.

Citing an example, Abdullah said NUBE was a well managed union which looked into the welfare of the 30,000 bank employees.

Abdullah, who was instrumental in resolving the collective agreement (CA) dispute between NUBE and the Malaysian Commercial Banks Association (MCBA) last year, said a two-year impasse was eventually solved because both parties had acted responsibly.

“Unions can make demands when the situation permits. But they should be reasonable and not make demands that their employers cannot fulfil particularly during crises,” he said.

Abdullah expressed hope that all parties would continue to give importance to human capital development as only then could the nation be propelled to greater heights.

“You must have this desire in you to be successful...I hope the all of you would remember this,” he said.

On a lighter note, Abdullah said he always made it a point to attend Labour Day event when he was in office.

“Initially I thought that I would not be able to attend one this year as I was no longer PM. But when I received Nube’s invite, I told Jeanne that we must make it a point to attend,” he said to a loud applause.

NUBE president S.Sivabalan in his speech thanked Abdullah for his role in solving the CA dispute with banks.

He also expressed hope that the government would get NUBE’s views on the liberalisation of the financial sector as this would have an impact on bank workers.

Sivabalan also proposed the setting up of a Sectoral Social dialogue and tripartite mechanism involving Bank Negara, the Association of Banks and the Federation of Trade Unions of Employees in Banking and Financial Institutions.

“Its purpose is to to ensure that workers welfare is enhanced, productivity gains are relaised and the highest quality of banking and financial service is rendered,” he added.

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