Bypassing of the Minister proposal lauded
This will speed up the legal process in labour cases, say experts
PETALING JAYA: The Human Resources Minister’s proposal that cases of worker dismissals be referred straight to the Industrial Court without his intervention augurs well for the workforce, experts said.
Labour law practitionerDatuk Thavalingam Thavarajah said the proposed amendment is a step in the right direction as it will remove an administrative element from the process undertaken by the Industrial Court.
He said the time frame an for an unfair dismissal case could take up to three years, despite the 24-month limit on backwages.
“There were also instances where the minister chose not to refer a case to the Industrial Court, leading to an employee challenging the same at the High Court.
“There were cases where disputes were only remitted back to the Industrial Court five to six years after an employee was dismissed,” he said, leading to witnesses becoming untraceable, facts forgotten or documentary evidence becoming difficult to locate.
Thavalingam, a former Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) secretary, said it defeated the whole purpose of the Industrial Court to give a speedy resolution to disputes without being bound by technicalities.
“A lot of time is also spent at the conciliation process before the matter is brought to the minister’s attention.
“There were times when employers and employees were left disillusioned,” he said.
Last week, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran pledged to propose the cancellation of the minister’s powers to the Cabinet before tabling it in Parliament.
The suggestion was to remove the power of the minister in terms of reference and screening before a case could be referred to the Industrial Court.
Malaysian Bar Industrial and Employment Law Committee co-chairman Anand Ponnudurai welcomed the move.
“You have full access to the courts when somebody knocks you down or defames you.
“So why is it when your livelihood is affected by a termination is it then to be affected by the decision of the minister?” he asked.
Another industrial law practitioner, Muhendaran Suppiah, said the proposal would provide a speedy resolution to cases.
He said a case would be struck out if the aggrieved worker died.
“So if there is a delay and something unfortunate happens, the family cannot step in.
“With the minister giving up this power, matters are referred to immediately,” he said in commending Kulasegaran.