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Forming An Union

Karine Mooi
Member
Thu, 11 Oct 2012 11:51:07 AM  (Last updated: Mon, 22 Oct 2012 11:51:14 AM)

I had a bombshell dropped on my lap yesterday. Any employee who wants to form an union can do so, with enough support from his/her colleagues. Am i right to say this? Even if there isnt any union of such with the MTUC now.

What are the criteria to form an union? I know that certain group of employees can't form unions.

Thanks.

Joseph Thong
Contributor
Mon, 22 Oct 2012 11:51:13 AM

In the context of the law, union is a society. For that matter any organization that is not a business is a society. Political parties or philanthropic/charity organizations are also societies. To form a labor union or any kind of society you need to look at the Society Act. While this Act serves as your main guide you can also visit the Registrar of Societies. The key points for formation are listed below.

Constitution

While Companies are governed by its M&A, Societies operates within their Constitution. The constitution is decided on by the people who want to spearhead this society. The Registrar has a sample for people to amend as they see fit to suit their needs.

Pro-term Committee

Before a society is form, a pro-term committee will manage this society. These are the people who wanted to spearhead the committee. Their purpose is to come up with the constitution and get the society registered.

Eligibility

This clause in the constitution defines membership to the society. For example “Management Staff of XYZ Bhd are eligible to join the XYZ Bhd Management Staff Union” or “All Staff of ABC Sdn Bhd can join  ...” can be use depending on the situation. The Registrar requires 75% of eligible people to sign up as members to register the society. This would ensure that the society can represent the interest of the majority. (This 75% may be outdated).

This should be sufficient guide to start a union. The following answers your questions.

1) The enough support form his colleague to form a union is the 75% eligibility criteria.

2) Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) is not the body that approves the formation of union. The Registrar of Society (ROS) is.

3) What gives you the idea that MTUC has a hand to play here? MTUC it rooted from the days where union was popular and thus the idea to form one big union was mooted and MTUC came into existence. MTUC is thus divided into branches. While Companies uses the term branches, Societies prefer term like “chapter”, “chamber” or “charter”. MTUC comes into the picture only if you want the union to be a chapter of MTUC. Most people will avoid this alternative because MTUC is one big union with a lot of items on their agenda.

4) All groups can form a union. This comes down to the eligibility criteria in the constitution. Back in the late 80s I spearheaded a management staff union for an insurance company as a pro-term committee.

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