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SEGARAJAH, KETUA SETIAUSAHA, KEMENTERIAN SUMBER MANUSIA SEMPENA MAJLIS PERASMIAN THE SECOND REGIONAL SEMINAR ON INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS: EMERGING INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ISSUES AND TRENDS IN THE ASEAN COUNTRIES IN TIME OF FINANCIAL AND ECONOMIC CRISIS DI HOTEL IMPIANA KLCC, KUALA LUMPUR PADA 03 04 FEBRUARI, 2010 Terima kasih Saudari Pengerusi Majlis. 1. His Excellency, Mr. Taro Muraki Assistant Minister, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan. 2. Mr. Bill Salter Director, International Labour Organization Sub-regional Office for East Asia. 3. Resource Persons from the International Labour Organization (ILO). 4. Members of the ASEAN Secretariat. 5. Senior Officers, Ministry of Human Resources, Malaysia. 6. Distinguished participants, 7. Ladies and Gentlemen. 7. Good morning and a very warm Selamat Datang to our ASEAN friends and guests from overseas to the Second Regional Seminar on Industrial Relations to address emerging industrial relations issues and trends in the ASEAN Countries

in time of financial and economic crisis. We are both honoured and gratified to be hosting this two-day Seminar on industrial relations. 8. Im glad to note that participants attending this Seminar comprise representatives from the workers, employers and government representatives of the respective ASEAN Member Countries in the true spirit of tripartism as well as the distinguished delegates from Japan and the ILO. I am convinced that the array of participants together with their multiplicity of knowledge and experiences, should bring forth practical ideas and workable measures that should facilitate the realization of our objectives in addressing emerging industrial relation issues and trends in times of economic downturns. 9. Special mention must be given to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the government of Japan as well as members of the ASEAN Secretariat for their unrelenting technical support and assistance in making valuable projects of this nature possible, for which I am confident should in one way or the other assist, the ASEAN Member Countries into integrating efforts, to share experiences, exchange views, practices and pertinent problems faced in common, to deal with emerging and challenging industrial relations issues and circumstances confronting the tripartite partners in the light of the current economic uncertainties. The smooth running of this Seminar hopefully is a clear demonstration of collaborative networking achieved between ASEAN, the ASEAN Secretariat and the ILO. 10. I do hope that the recommendations or resolutions derived through active deliberation and involvement by the participants throughout the two-day proceedings would facilitate the enhancement of regular and constructive discussions among the social partners, to address and tackle the various emerging industrial relations issues and trend in times of economic downturn, with the view to secure continued sound and quality industrial relations in our

respective countries, in particular, and within the whole ASEAN region, in general.

Ladies and Gentlemen. 11. 2009 has not been an easy year for ASEAN. Malaysia, like most of our ASEAN counterparts was not spared from the unfavorable impact of a weakening external economic environment due to the unprecedented distortions to the global financial order which started in the last quarter of 2008. As a trading nation, Malaysia felt the brunt of the economic downturn given our countrys position as one of the worlds leading exporter of manufactured products. As an emerging economy, our country is heavily dependent on exports of technology related products to fuel our economic growth. 12. The global financial crisis has had severe ramifications for the real economy of our country. The decline in the economies of our major trading partners had led to consequential impacts on our companies. Retrenchment exercises and instances of pay-cuts escalated and many of our employers and workers had to implement various cost-cutting measures. Although one year or so has passed since the brunt of the economic downturn was felt and there are now some signs of visible recovery in certain economic sectors, Malaysia still persists in her efforts to secure persistent and enhanced economic sustainability. Our governments main concern is to secure jobs for our citizens, in particular those who lost their jobs due to retrenchment, besides ensuring their continued employability. 13. Given the present challenging times, amidst uncertain economic circumstances, our priority concern is to heighten our collective engagement and rapport, building consensus to deal with strategic industrial relations issues, through regular social dialogues and consultations. The Government highly values

tripartism which had for the last decade facilitated the nation with a continued sound and conducive industrial relations atmosphere. 14. Our model of tripartite collaboration with workers and employers had served our nation well in both, good times as well as in difficult times. On the governments part, we recognize that such consultative relationship with our social partners in industry is a priority area that should not be taken for granted in managing industrial relations issues. We have always sought to work closely with our workers and employers organizations, and only by gathering their strong support, their shared sacrifices and cooperation, will we be able to embark on measures to sustain continued employment and employability of our workers. 15. In Malaysia, we have constantly resorted to preventive industrial relations strategies to prevent, monitor and ensure the expeditious resolution to industrial disputes so that we experience as minimal labour dislocation as possible. We ensured that retrenchment of workers is done only when absolutely necessary and as a last resort. We have also asked employers to compensate their workers fairly and to assist in finding them new employment. We have also set up programs for retraining and re-skilling of our workers to enable them to learn and acquire new skills in order to move forward and secure continued employment in different economic sectors.


Most of our labour force is involved in sectors that export to other parts of the world. Any future downturn in the global economy may likely results in similar retrenchments. Thus, we must formulate a regional guideline on how we can handle external pressures to our labour markets. I hope this seminar will be able to address and discuss the many models of enterprises best practices to deal with this matter.


In these difficult times, it is imperative for parties to give due regards to regular and constructive social dialogue, to reach common understanding and demonstrate mutual trust in coping and overcoming the current economic crisis. In this regards, social dialogues must include firm and genuine willingness to deliberate on and find amicable solutions to difficult but pertinent issues related to human resources management.


Security of tenure of employment is increasingly becoming a more challenging issue in the present globalised and competitive economic environment. While our employers would like to have smoother and clearer processes in dealing with management prerogatives, for instance, the right to hiring and firing, we have to ensure that the rights and welfare of our workers are not compromised but instead given due care and consideration. Pertaining to this, the Malaysian Government through the Ministry of Human Resources is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring employment and safeguarding the welfare of our workers besides the interest of management as well. In carrying out its task, the Ministry performs the delicate role of regulating and balancing the rights between labour and capital in our continued policy of promoting and maintaining a sound industrial relations ecosystem in the country.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 19. The quest for sound industrial relations in todays uncertain economic environment demands progressive and productive labour-management relations and cooperation. Success stories among successful enterprises in the country have proven the fact that the state of relations and cooperation between workers and employers can be significantly improved through the development and motivation of human resources. 20. To actuate realization of the aforesaid policies and objectives, the Ministry of Human Resources Malaysia accords due regard to realizing the Decent Work

Agenda for our Malaysian workforce. Our Decent Work agenda captures the various dimensions of the concept of decent work governing areas on labour standards and fundamental principles and rights at work; employment opportunities; social protection; and social dialogues. On industrial relations, our Decent Work country programmes seek to induce a conducive work environment with harmonized industrial relations. These efforts are carried out in collaboration with our social partners in the spirit of tripartism. 21. In the Governments effort to lessen the probable and imminent impact on employment due to the present economic slowdown, the Government had initiated steps to implement two (2) Economic Stimulus Packages with the view, among others, to facilitate the conduct of training and re-skilling programmes for our retrenched workers. This is to provide them with the opportunity to secure new skill sets, thus widening their prospect for employment and employability into other jobs. Ladies and Gentlemen, 22. As a growing nation, Malaysia has to ensure its competitiveness while fostering sustainable growth of its economy. Concentration on factors that encourage productivity growth and the creation of quality jobs will be critical to promote competitiveness and a decent livelihood for our workers. To this end, our policy is to encourage companies to invest in workers skills and improve access to new technologies. Complimenting this objective, our government stresses on systematically fostering innovation and creativity as the key drivers of value-add and promoting higher value-add sources of growth. 23. The transition to a high-income economy for the future of our country is the key priority of our Government today. In this regard, the Government saw the urgency to bring about competition in all sectors of our economy so as to shift our countrys reliance from a manufacturing base dependent on semi-skilled and low-

cost labour to one that hinges on high technology and a modern services sector dependent upon skilled and highly paid workers. In this regards, the importance of collaborative networking through regular and constructive social dialogues among our social partners in complimenting our responsiveness to ensuring a smooth transition to a high-income economy cannot be over-emphasised. 24. In this era of rapid structural changes and increasing competitive pressure, it is also essential that we increase our workers productivity whilst streamlining our production value chain. Productivity management is essentially managing our competitiveness factor to enable our nation to remain attractive for FDI and investment growth. Productivity in particular is a vital determining factor in the competitiveness of both national economies and individual enterprises. 25. Other things being equal, higher labour productivity increases competition which in turn attracts investment and fuels economic growth and employment generation. A productive and competitive workforce will help in building a more competitive economic environment which, in turn, may prompt higher levels of income for our workers. 26. Social dialogues and tripartism have been key factors in enabling ASEAN member countries to address the downturn. Managing industrial relations issues in these turbulent times inevitably demand real collaboration through persistent and constructive social dialogues and consultation between the tripartite social constituents. 27. It will not be an easy balance to achieve, but by learning from all the experts present today and listening to viewpoints and tapping on the synergies among the social partners during this two-day tripartite Seminar, it is hoped that we can share pragmatic approaches in dealing with the current difficulties we are facing, so that we can effectively address them and move forward with renewed optimism, to pursue our collective policy of realizing the goal we seek to achieve

and create the country in which we want to live for the benefits of our workers, employers and our regional economies within ASEAN. 28. As our country faces the global environment of slower economic performance, Malaysians have remained largely united in overcoming all ensuing challenges. The future is a collection of many possibilities and uncertainties. In maximizing potentials for growth and overcoming possibilities in an uncertain and ensuing challenging environment, our Government had embraced 1Malaysia, a unifying concept to integrate efforts and by being inclusive among every Malaysians to work as one team in our collective pursuit of accomplishing one common goal of realizing our envisioned developed nation status by the year 2020. 29. With the prevailing economy showing encouraging signs of emerging from the downturn in certain sectors of the economy, our employers who are no longer confronted with excess manpower can prepare themselves by improving competitiveness and sustainability in managing manpower issues and challenges so that they can ride on the winds of the coming upturn, whilst remaining vigilant to threats which may impede business recovery. Ladies and Gentlemen, 30. Within the ASEAN perspective, looking ahead to the next five (5) years from today, the shared vision to accelerate integration among ASEAN Member Countries reached at the ASEAN Summit held in Cebu, Phillipines in January 2007 with the aim of establishing an ASEAN Economic Community by the year 2015 is indeed an important and relevant visionary agenda. It is hoped that more projects in the form of conferences, seminars, dialogues, workshops and exchange programmes should thrive in the ASEAN family as these events could help to foster and strengthen tripartite understanding and regional cooperation apart from building human resource capability in these regions. This move should contribute to making the ASEAN region a favourable location for foreign

investments, bringing about sustained, inclusive economic growth and jobs creation for the benefits of the people within the whole ASEAN region. 31. Last but not least, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to express my sincere appreciation and special thanks for the support of the ILO, the government of Japan and the ASEAN Secretariat, for Malaysia to host this seminar. I should also wish to thank the presenters, the moderators, observers and all our distinguished participants for their involvement and making this seminar a reality. I have every confidence in the success of the Seminar and have no doubts that your active deliberations over the next two days should bear creative and productive outcomes. On this note, ladies and gentlemen, I wish all the delegates a fruitful Seminar and a pleasant stay in Kuala Lumpur. Thank you. (Dato R. Segarajah) Secretary General, Ministry of Human Resources Malaysia. Dated: 03 February, 2010