Employee Relations - Union Matters

1. What is trade union?

A trade union is an independent association or combination of employees that acts as a voice to regulate relations between employees and employers for the purpose of improving good industrial relations, enhance economic and social status of both parties as well as finding solutions to raise productivity for the benefit of those involved.

2. Does establishment of trade union is limited only to employee?

No, employer can also establish their trade union.

3. What is essential prerequisite that enables trade union to establish?
  • They supposed to be a worker, working in an establishment (trade, job or certain industry or in any trade, job or same industry)
  • Already on duty at least a year
  • At least 21 years old and above for Trade Union Officer
4. Whether workers in the public sector/government can combine with the private sector to institute a trade union?


5. Who is eligible to be trade union officer?
  • Citizens of Malaysia and 21-year-old and above
  • Not an officer in trade union that has been invalidated by Director General of Trade Union
  • Not an office bearer or employee in a political party
  • Not being convicted offences by the court
  • Not a bankrupt
6. What are my rights under the Industrial Relations Act, 1967 if I have been terminated from employment?

Section 20 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1967 states that you may file a representation for reinstatement if you consider your dismissal to be without just cause or excuse. Such representations must be filed within sixty (60) days from the day of dismissal. However, if you have been dismissed with notice then you may file at any time during the period of such notice but not later than sixty (60) days from the expiry of the notice.

7. How and where can I file my representations?

Your representations must be filed in writing at our office nearest to your former place of employment. (Please refer to our address book). Your letter should among others, state the following :

  • That the remedy you are seeking is reinstatement
  • Your name and address (telephone number(s), if any);
  • Name, address and telephone number(s) of your former company;
  • Occupation; and monthly salary
  • Date of appointment;
  • Date of dismissal;
  • Reasons for your dismissal;
  • Whether you are a member of a union or otherwise;

You may also attach copies of relevant documents (e.g. Letter of termination/appointment letter).

8. Do I have to pay any fees when I file my representations?

No, you don't have to pay any fees.

9. What is the process involved after the filing of my representations?

Under Section 20 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1967, a workman who considers his dismissal as without just cause or excuse may file a claim for reinstatement within 60 days of his dismissal. Upon receiving the representation by the workman, the department will invite both the employer and workman for a conciliation meeting. Where the claimant fails to attend any of the conferences without any reasonable excuses, the representation is deemed withdrawn. The Conciliation Officer's role will be to explain the practices and principles of law that are applicable including judgment of the courts, both the Industrial Court and civil courts, so that the parties are aware of their rights and liabilities. With this explanation it is expected that they would be able to resolve their differences and come to an amicable settlement. If the conciliation efforts fail, the case will then be referred to the Honourable Minister of Human Resources who will exercise his discretionary powers to refer the matter to the Industrial Court or otherwise. When a reference is made to Industrial Court, the court will adjudicate the matter.

10. Who can represent me in the proceedings conducted by the department?

As a workman :

  • You can represent yourself; or
  • If you are member of a trade union, your trade union officers or an employee of your trade union can represent you; or
  • You can also be represented by an official of an organisation of workmen (not being a trade union) such as the MTUC.

However, you cannot be represented by an advocate, adviser, consultant or by any person whatsoever except as stated above.

11. What is the Code of Conduct for Industrial Harmony?

The Code of Conduct that has been agreed after numerous meetings between representatives of the Malaysian Trade Union Congress and the Malayan Council of Employer's Organisations held under the auspices of the then Ministry of Labour and Manpower are as follows:

  • To refrain from taking unilateral action with regard to any industrial dispute
  • To resolve all differences, grievances and disputes strictly in accordance with the grievance procedures of collective agreements, or, where there are no agreements, by negotiation, conciliation and arbitration;
  • To ensure that at all times all matters in dispute are dealt with by the proper machinery established for that purpose;
  • To promote constructive and positive co-operation at all levels in industry and to abide faithfully by the spirit of agreements mutually entered into
  • To establish, where none exists, a procedure which will ensure a complete and speedy investigation of grievances leading to a joint settlement
  • To comply with the various steps in the procedure for disposal of grievances and to avoid any arbitrary action which ignores there procedures
  • To refrain from resorting to coercion, intimidation, victimisation and to avoid go-slow, sit down and stay-in-strikes
  • To educate managements and workers of their obligations to each other.

However, you cannot be represented by an advocate, adviser, consultant or by any person whatsoever except as stated above.