Cyber-muzzling of staff 'ignorant, irresponsible'

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The Malaysian Employers Federation's (MEF) statement that said employees might face strict disciplinary action if they put up workplace discussions and internal matters in cyberspace, is equivalent to treating employees as slaves.

The statement by MEF executive director Shamsuddin Bardan, which was published in The Star daily today, shows ignorance and irresponsibility.

Employers must understand that by coming up with such a threat, they are indirectly infringing the employees right to freedom of opinion and expression.

An employer who is approachable, complies with labour laws and respects the rights of a worker, as well as resolves disputes with union respectfully, will never be subjected to such discussions on cyberspace or the mainstream media.

Employers cannot claim immunity against their act of abusing and exploitation of workers, and later issue threats in order to conceal them and to make sure those employees do not expose them.

Releasing such a bold statement clearly shows the rampant act of using threats and bullying in the workspace.

In fact, this simple reason of not being able to access any other avenues to highlight abuse and exploitation could be one of the reasons why foreign maids have been continuously abused, with some ending up being killed.

In fact, MEF should be proactive in advising their members to behave themselves, so that employees will stop using the social media to express their unhappiness.

However, we also would like to stress that we do not condone employees discrediting or damaging their employers without any merits.

Employers should notify the unions in such circumstances so that the unions will advise the employees accordingly.

MEF must be mindful that they have consented in adopting International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its follow-up, which was adopted in 1998.

This declaration covers the core labour standards, which clearly spells out the right of a worker to express opinions.

According to the declaration, the right to express opinions without previous authorisation through the press or otherwise is one of the essential elements of the rights of occupational organisations.

It is the right of the worker, it's leaders and the union to express its opinion uncensored through the independent press and they shall be guaranteed when they wish to criticise the employers and governments economic and social policies.

MEF cannot act in contrary to what they have adopted as it would place their integrity in question and most importantly, MEF must make sure their members follows suit, otherwise MEF and Malaysian employers will be regarded as clowns by the international community.

Therefore National Union of Bank Employees (Nube) would like to suggest to MEF to be more responsible in its role by assuring its policies are in accordance to the conventions and declarations agreed in the ILO, which is what the government of Malaysia is aspiring to fulfil.

Nube also would like to suggest that MEF have frequent dialogues with Malaysian Trade Union Congress to ensure policies and laws in relation to workers are in consistent with the agreed declarations and conventions in the ILO.

These will minimise further embarrassment to Malaysian government, which already caused by some employers, which has been reported to the committee for Freedom of Association at ILO.

J SOLOMON is National Union of Bank Employees (Nube) general secretary.


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