Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Malaysia: Union busting at Kamaya Electronics

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The laws of Malaysia, giving workers the right to form trade unions have been violated once again, resulting in the ‘double sacking’ of Helen Mary, the secretary of the newly formed Kamaya Electrical Workers Union. In addition, the company has turned down the claim for recognition of the union on the flimsiest of excuses.
This report is from a Malaysian socialist activist and taken from

It is union busting at its prime. A company who just can’t see a union being formed. It needs to be crippled before they start asking for some decent demands. This seems to be discouragement to the workers in Malaysia. Union membership continues to decline as exploitation soars. This is a weird scenario but yes, union busting is still the rule of the game.

Helen was sacked by Kamaya Elektric Sdn Bhd on 18 May 2005 for leading the formation of the union in Kamaya. Subsequently, barely five days after joining another company, Ultrawin Sdn Bhd, she was sacked again, on 17 June 2005, on the grounds of her involvement in union activity in Kamaya.

Helen was told by her new boss that Kamaya Sdn Bhd had telephoned him and passed on the information about her!

Freedom of Association

Helen has been victimized twice for doing something that the Federal Constitution and the Industrial Relations Act provide for, that is, the freedom of association and the right of all workers to form a trade union. Today she is penalised because she wanted to form a union.

Kamaya’s criminal sacking of Helen, and obstruction of further employment elsewhere, have robbed her of a means to earn a living. However, not only Helen but also the whole of the 250 odd workforce of Kamaya, have been subjected to intense intimidation, witch hunting, suspension and interrogation since the union was accorded recognition by the Registrar of Trade Unions on 30 April 2005.

Immediately after the formation of the union, video cameras were installed in various parts of the factory to monitor their activities. Obviously, Kamaya has inferred that the lack of video cameras earlier had prevented the management from detecting union formation activity in the workplace. So, from now on, Kamaya workers will work their daily twelve hours in an intimidating and oppressive environment where they will be spied on constantly by management through their high-tech cameras.

It is also strongly rumoured that the axe will next fall on the President of the union, Zaharuddin Zahid, and the treasurer, Kumaraguru. Kumaraguru has already been penalized by having his overtime withdrawn. Zaharuddin himself has been denied overtime for the past seven years because of his attempts to form a national electrical union in 1998.

Declaration of war

The pressure on the Vice President, Mazlan Idris is so intense that he has expressed his desire to step down from his post. Mazlan has been singled out because the union uses his house address as its official address. Kamaya’s union busting tactics have not stopped here. A number of workers have been taken by the management in its own vehicles to the Commissioner of Oaths in order to swear declarations that they were compelled to become members of the union.

Another normal tactic from their old school of tricks. With all these assaults by the company, the union is bleeding, and the Ministry of Human Resources is only watching, hoping, for a quiet and swift death of the union. It has failed to come to the rescue of the workers, and take action against all the offences committed by the company.

Meanwhile, the company has turned down the union’s claim for registration, based on trivialities such as a misspelling and assumptions that workers were coerced to become members. The question is, when the Director General of Trade Unions has already registered the union, why should workers apply for recognition from the boss? Given the bosses’ animosity towards trade unions, there remains little chance of getting recognition.

However, the law requires this absurd and irrational procedure. The silver lining to all this is that Helen and her fellow workers are not about to bow out quietly. They are determined to fight to restrain Kamaya. They are determined to fight for justice. The action on Helen is a declaration of war by the bosses. The Workers together will fight this repression!

Model protest letter: (send to Kamaya Electrical at the address below)


We (name of organization) strongly condemn Kamaya Electrical Limited to sack Helen Mary, the secretary of the newly formed Kamaya Electrical Workers Union in Malaysia and the further intimidation against the union members just because they wanted to form a union.

It is the constitutional rights of workers in Malaysia to form a union and the pervasive attempt of Kamaya Electrical Limited to oppress the workers by forcing them to withdraw from union membership, witch-hunting, simply suspending workers and interrogating them are utterly atrocious.

We demand Kamaya Electrical Limited management:

– Immediately reinstate Helen Mary, the Union Secretary of Kamaya Electrical Workers Union to her previous position

– Stop all forms of Union busting, intimidation and threatening of leaders and workers of Kamaya Electrical Workers Union

– Recognise Kamaya Electrical Workers Union and to respect the union and democratic rights and freedom of workers

Head Office, Kamaya Electrical Corp, 1-7-1 Shibuya, Yamato-shi, Kanagawa, 242-8511 Japan.


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