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PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court today ruled that the director-general of trade unions must consult all relevant parties before making a decision to register a competing trade union in the same industry.
Justice Balia Yusof Wahi said the director-general had no absolute discretion in deciding whether to register a trade union.
“The director-general is obliged to consider the views of an existing trade union if another union had applied to be registered to represent the same category of workmen,” he said.
The judge made this remark in dismissing the appeal by the director-general and the National Union of Maybank Berhad Non-Executive Employees (Maynue) against the National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE).
“The registration of a trade union is not a mechanical process nor was the director-general to act as a rubber stamp,” he said in delivering the judgment of the five-man bench.
Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria led the panel. Others on the bench were Suriyadi Halim Omar, Azahar Mohamed and Zaharah Ibrahim.
Balia said the director-general was obliged to consider the effect of registering a trade union on the workers concerned and the industry at large.
He said the director-general must also bear in mind the effect of having multiple unions representing the same category of workmen and he must avoid multiplicity of unions to protect industrial harmony.
He said the complainant, NUBE, represented by Ambiga Sreenevasan and Alex De Silva, had a reasonable expectation to be heard but that right had been denied.
“In any civilised system, the rules of natural justice like the right to be heard must be acted on fairly,” he added.
The bench also awarded RM50,000 in costs to NUBE .
NUBE, the parent union for bank employees, has represented the majority of the non-executive employees in the entire banking industry, including Malayan Banking Berhad (Maybank), since 1958 in industrial disputes.
It has also been concluding collective agreements with the Malaysian Commercial Banks Association which bind, among others, Maybank and its non-executive employees.
The director-general registered Mayneu as an in-house union on Jan 3, 2011 .
This was done without consulting NUBE although the national union was already representing the same category of workmen sought to be represented by Mayneu.
NUBE then sent an appeal against the registration of Mayneu to the Human Resources Minister as required under Section 71A Trade Unions Act.
When no response was forthcoming from the minister, NUBE filed an application for judicial review against the decision of the director-general for registering Mayneu as an in-house trade union.
The High Court dismissed NUBE’s judicial review application on the principal grounds that the director-general had absolute discretion whether to register a trade union.
The High Court also held that the director-general was not obliged to consult or even hear representations from an existing trade union representing the same category of workmen.
NUBE proceeded to the Court of Appeal and the appeal was allowed in 2013.
The court then ordered the decision of the director-general be quashed while the registration of Maynue was set aside.
Source : http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/03/10/court-trade-unions-d-g-must-consult-before-registering-rival-union/
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