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Introduction
Trade unions (TU) & union federations are
governed by the TU Act 1959 (TUA).
Generally, the TUA functions to:
Define unions;
Require their registrations;
Regulates the composition & membership of
unions;
Detail the rights, powers, duties &
responsibilities of unions; and
Provide supervision of unions.
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Why join trade unions?
Generally, TU works as a pressure group
towards the employer & government.
Reasons for joining TU:
For economic motive
For protection of rights
For social reasons
Other reasons:
Job security
Co-operation with fellow workers
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Why? cont.
Economic motive
to improve economic situation; e.g. to improve
terms of service (pay & benefits).
individual worker has limited bargaining power
compared to union.
Workers who associate themselves legally are
given protection under the law.
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Cont.
Protection of rights
Other than to increase pay, workers hope that
unions would cut cross racial barriers, ensure fair
treatment for all & minimise/eliminate unfair
practices & favouritism.
So, to protect them from exploitation & unfair
treatment at work.
For social reasons
Workers may be influenced to join TU to show
solidarity & to be protected by other fellow
workers.
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Objectives of Trade Union
To promote the industrial, social & intellectual
interests of its members;
To maintain & obtain just & proper rates of
remuneration, security of employment, etc.;
To promote the material, social & educational
welfare of its members;
To promote legislation affecting the interests
of the members.

Structure of Union Federations
Union
Federations
Employee
Federations
Public
Sector
Public
Services
Statutory &
Local
Authorities
Private
Sector
Similar
Trades
Similar
Occupations
Similar
Industries
Employer
Federations
Private
Sector
Similar
Trades
Similar
Industries
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Rights for Trade unionism
S 4(1) IRA:
No person shall interfere with, restrain or
coerce a workman or an employer in the
exercise of his rights to form & assist in the
formation of & to join a TU & to participate in
its lawful activities.
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Cont.
S 5(1) & (2) IRA employers cannot:
Impose a condition in the contract restraining the
person from joining a union;
refuse to employ a worker on the grounds he is a
trade union member;
discriminate against worker for the reason that he
is a trade union member;
threaten to dismiss, injure or alter his position if
he joins/participates in union activities;
Induce any person not to become/ stop being a
member/officer of a union.
Exceptions
Despite the above restrictions, the employer
may [s 5(2)]:
Refuse to employ, or not promoting, or
suspending, transferring, laying off or discharging
a workman for proper cause;
Restrain an employee in a managerial, executive
or a security position from becoming a
member/officer of a union catering for employees
not occupying managerial positions; or
Restrain an employee employed in a confidential
capacity in matters relating to staff relations from
becoming a member/officer of TU.
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Definition
S 2 TUA: trade union
(a) A union can be temporary or permanent
association or combination of employers or
employees it cannot be a combination of both
employers & employees;
(b) It must be confined to Msia or Sabah or
Swak cannot embrace Msia as a whole;
(c) An employer union must be confined to a
particular industry or trade, or to similar
industries or trade similar in the opinion of DG;

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Cont.
(d) an employee union must be confined to a
particular establishment or industry or trade or
occupation, or to similar industries or trades or
occupations similar in the opinion of DG;
(e) any association or combination of employers
or of employees which fits the definition would
be a union whether or not it has been registered
as one.
(f) union also cannot be a combination of public
& private sectors

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Objective
The TU must have the following objects
Regulations that promote good industrial relations
between employer & employee or improving the
working conditions, economic & social status;
Regulation of relations between employer-
employer or between employee-employee;
The representation of employer or employee in
trade disputes;
The dealing with trade disputes & matters related;
The promoting, organising or financing of strikes
or lockouts
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Registration
S 8 TUA: apply for registration within 1
month of establishment.
Failure to register or application is rejected
(s 19)
The union is deemed to be an unlawful
association & cease to enjoy rights, immunities
or privileges of a registered union;
The union, officers, members or agents shall not
take part in any trade dispute, or promote,
organise or finance strike or lockout;
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Cont.
The union shall be dissolved; and
No person shall take any part in its management
or organisation
Although registration is not a prerequisite for
a union to exist, it is a prerequisite for a
union to function (s 59).
The registering authority DG of TU when
the TUA gives him powers in relation to the
registration of the unions.
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Power of DG
DG may
register a union by issuing a cert of registration;
or
Reject the application if he is of the opinion that
the union is likely to be used for unlawful
purposes; or
Revoke the registration if he is satisfied that the
union has been or likely to be used for unlawful
purpose.
Ss 12, 13 & 15.
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Composition
Under the definition, a union may be
composed of
Either employers or employees;
In Msia or Sabah or Swak;
In private or public sector; and
Within a particular industry/trade or within similar
industry/trade (employers); or
Within a particular establishment/industry/
trade/occupation or within similar industries/
trades/occupations (employee).
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Membership
S 26, 27, 27A TUA : persons who are
prohibited from being members of union:
(a) persons below 16 years of age;
(b) student of educational institution; unless he is
an employee & over 18 years;
Any person not employed in establishment/
industry/trade/occupation in which the union is
registered;
Any public officer (whom are not exempted by the
YDPA).
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Rights
A registered TU has various rights,
immunities, privileges & powers
Immunity from civil suit for any act in contem-
plation or in furtherance of a trade dispute (s 21);
Immunity from liability for any tortious act of a
union (s 22);
Right to sue in its registered name & to be
represented in civil/criminal proceedings (s 25);
Privilege of having objects which are not deemed
to be unlawful to render the union/member liable
for criminal prosecution for conspiracy(s 24).
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Powers
S 2 (by implication of the definition)
Regulate relations between employer-employee;
Represent employer/employee in disputes;
Conduct/deal with trade disputes & matters
related;
Promote, organise or finance strikes or lockouts.

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Cont.
S 49: powers to
purchase/lease land, building;
Deposit its fund in bank;
Invest its funds;
S 54A: power to receive & collect money
S 29 & 30: power to employ & pay secretary,
treasurer & others for union purpose
S 72: power to form a union federation
Ss 32, 34, 36, 33, 76A.
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Office, Officers, Funds &
Accounts
Have a registered office & union rules.
Officer or employee of a union cannot be an
employee of another; nor an employee of a
union be an officer of the union.
Funds should be used for the union purpose
only.
Treasurer must keep a record of all receipts
& payments.
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RECOGNITION
Unions protect employees from exploitation
& promote their economic welfare through
collective bargaining.
Collective bargaining with an employer is
just possible when the union is recognised
by the employer as the proper
respresentative.
Hence, union recognition is a prerequisite to
collective bargaining (CB); without
recognition, union cannot bargain
collectively.
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Cont.
Recognition entitles a union
to bargain collectively on behalf of employees;
to conclude collective agreement with an
employer;
to represent employees before the court in the
dispute over collective agreement.
Ladang Segaria S/B v Napsie Ngalit
The recognition of a registered union confers
upon the union the right to require an employer
to enter into negotiations for a collective
agreement.
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Conditions for Recognition
A union should satisfy conditions
Must be a registered union;
Must be competent to represent (represent
blue-collar employees, confine to the same
establishment/industry/trade/occupation);
Representative of the employees by simple
majority (for CB purpose).

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Recognition Process
A claim for recognition may be served on an
employer
at any time;
In writing;
In a prescribed form.
The employer may
Accede & accord recognition (resolved);
Reject or ignore (the union may file a complaint
with the DG or request the DG to ascertain
whether it has satisfied the conditions) s 9 IRA.
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Case
Korea Devt Corp v Construction Workers
Union
A union may organise the employees who are
eligible for membership in accordance with the
rules of the union. When it believes that more than
50% of the employees have joined up, the union
claims recognition from the employer. On receipt
of the claim, the employer may either accord
recognition or apply to the DG for IR for a
membership checkOnce recognition has been
accorded, the recognition stands for so long as
the union exists even though only one employee
is left as a member of the union.
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Effect of Recognition
Once a claim for recognition is made & while
it is pending
Employer cannot declare a lockout against the
employees or terminate any employee;
Employees cannot picket or go on strike; and
No other union may make a claim for recognition
in respect of the same employees.
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Cont.
S 11 & 12 IRA:
If the claim is successful, no other union
may make a claim in respect of the same
employees for a period of 3 years.
If the claim is not successful, the union
cannot make another claim in respect of the
same employees for a period of 6 months.
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