Trade unions have traditionally been regarded as important instruments for protecting workers' interests at workplace. In addition, trade unions are confronted by economic factors, generally beyond their control, such as threat of capital flight, and overseas competition. The Malaysian trade union movement is in such a predicament and it can be argued that the movement is faced with a number of challenges from changing labour market structure and neo-liberal policies.
Todd and Peetz argue that overall Malaysia's industrial relations remain firmly within the 'control' rather than the 'commitment' framework. The state interventions remains pervasive, managerial control in the workplace continues to dominate and labour's ability to bargain collectively remains restricted. The provisions in legislations such as the Trade Unions Act and the Industrial Relations Act have made it very difficult for workers to organise themselves.
Industrial relations practices including employment practices in Malaysia have changed and continue to evolve since the general unionism from the s to the defeat of the Communist trade union movement in , and industrial unionism from until the eighties--when it now faces the prospect of being replaced by enterprise unionism. Various amendments to the legislation linked to employment and industrial relations, and industrialization strategies since the post-Independence years and beyond have had a marked effect upon the activities of the employers and the trade unions.
This has necessitated a careful examination of the extent of change in industrial relations in Malaysia. Attention has focused on two areas: first, the decline in the strength of organised labour as evidenced by a variety of statistics and second, the driving forces for this change. Trade union density in Malaysia was 9. Despite a slight increase to 8.
Average membership per trade union dipped from 1, The slide in the average members per union continued from 1, in , to 1, While absolute union membership has continued to increase over the years, the average membership per union has continued to decline, which points to the trade union movement having many unions with small membership size.
One would wonder at this point whether trade unions are a necessary institution. Josey 89 concluded that "without strong trade unions, Malaya is almost certain either to go communist or else degenerate into some form of authoritarianism". Additionally, since labor laws differ from one nation to another, an organization might also consider experience with international labor laws within multinational corporations.
When trade union organizing occurs, labor attorneys are generally contacted for advice and often turn to consultants with whom they work on a regular basis who can do supervisory training on site. Many labor lawyers and consultants find clients by monitoring government offices such as the NLRB regional offices, where US trade unions are required to file RC Representation Certification or RD Representation Decertification petitions which are public record.
Some companies maintain libraries and offer petition logs online as a courtesy for companies which cannot conduct the research themselves. Similarly, UK trade unions are required by the ERA to adhere to specific procedures regarding trade union recognition, such as filing a "Letter of Intent" to the CAC,  which simultaneously notifies not only the CAC but the employer as well. The filing then becomes public record which labor lawyers and consultancies can access in order to market their services.
The notice assures Teamster employees that they will no longer be prevented from exercising their rights. The Board further found that the RCIA had violated Section 8 a 1 by engaging in coercive conduct with respect to certain of its own employees. In the book "Labor Organizations as Employers: Unions Within Unions", the author explored three different unions and the struggle of their workforces to organize. Another recent example of union busting tactics used by one union against the other is the SEIU vs CNA conflict, where each union was battling for the others' members.
The SEIU is focused in its mission to organize workers at any cost, provoking criticism for its consolidation of smaller locals into mega unions.
Some corporations have sought to learn of union activities by employing informants ,    the same way that unions employ salts to infiltrate a non union organization to gather propaganda and sow discord to gain union support. A plant or salt can be used to disrupt meetings, question the legitimacy and motives of either the union or management, and report the results of the meetings to their superiors. Disruption or reporting on union meetings is illegal, but can be difficult to prove in ULP hearings. Levitt , reported that he conducted a counter-organizing drive at a nursing home in Sebring, Ohio.
He assigned confederates to scratch up cars, then blamed it on the union.
Union effects on employee relations in Britain : WestminsterResearch
Similar activities have not been reported by others, yet Levitt said that creating and exploiting a prolonged climate of fear was key for him destroying the union's credibility. In the United States, the U.
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Supreme Court has upheld the decision of the National Labor Relations Board that employer espionage or an employer's use of spies or agents within labor unions is an unfair labor practice under the Wagner Act. Labor consultants, union organizers, and attorneys use rules and regulations to gain control of organizing drives.
Trade Unions in Malaysia: Perspectives of Employers & Employees of Unionized Companies
Most employers oppose union plans for card check elections and employ tactics to insure secret ballot elections instead. If the union seeks to include foreman or "junior supervisor" positions in a bargaining unit to increase membership, the definition of what constitutes a supervisor under the NLRA  will often be challenged by employment. Even the jurisdiction of the NLRB to oversee an organizing drive may be challenged. Delays can turn an organizing campaign into a protracted struggle, and according to Martin J. Levitt such battles are almost always won by management.
Many of the methods for defeating unions have been practiced for a very long time. Harry Wellington Laidler wrote a book in which reported the use of delaying tactics and provocation by an undercover operative of one of the largest known agencies of the time called Corporations Auxiliary Company. They would tell prospective employers,. Once the union is in the field its members can keep it from growing if they know how, and our man knows how.
Meetings can be set far apart. A contract can at once be entered into with the employer, covering a long period, and made very easy in its terms. However, these tactics may not be good, and the union spirit may be so strong that a big organization cannot be prevented. In this case our man turns extremely radical. He asks for unreasonable things and keeps the union embroiled in trouble. If a strike comes, he will be the loudest man in the bunch, and will counsel violence and get somebody in trouble. The result will be that the union will be broken up.
Employers may put pressure on a union by declaring a lockout , a work stoppage in which an employer prevents employees from working until certain conditions are met. A lockout changes the psychological impact of a work stoppage and, if the company possesses information about an impending strike, can be enacted prior to the strike's implementation.
Although nonprofit hospital workers were covered by the original Wagner Act of , they were excluded in with the Taft-Hartley amendments. However, during the s, hospital workers at nonprofit hospitals wanted to form unions in order to demand better pay and working conditions. Major American cities were also experiencing hospital strikes which raised awareness of both labor leaders and the government regarding how to continue life-sustaining patient care delivery during work stoppages.
In , under President Richard Nixon , the NRLA was amended  to extend coverage and protection to employees of non-profit hospitals. The Senate Labor Committee sought to fashion a mechanism which would insure that the needs of the patient would be met during contingencies arising out of labor disputes. The new law represented a sound and equitable reconciliation of these competing interests. Tax payer funds provide state treasuries the monies for public employee salaries from which public employees pay union dues.
At one time state laws did not allow government contracts to provide public money to labor relations consultancies. Critics charged that, in effect, "federal labor law forces states to hire unionbusters. Brown, Attorney General of California et al. Justice John Paul Stevens stated that Federal labor law had embraced "wide-open debate" about labor issues, as long as the employer did not try to coerce employees into accepting its point of view.
Consequently, the state law is incompatible with federal labor law. Other efforts to restrict anti-union activities by recipients of state funds have also been struck down. In the State of New York passed a labor neutrality act prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars for union busting. In May , a district court judge struck down the labor neutrality law in a ruling that the legal representatives of the Center for Cerebral Palsy described as "an enormous victory for employers.
Nathan Shefferman introduced some basic psychological techniques into the union avoidance industry and the complementary service of union prevention. Building upon his work, professionally trained psychologists in the s began using sophisticated psychological techniques to "screen out potential union supporters, identify hotspots vulnerable to unionization, and structure the workplace to facilitate the maintenance of a non-union environment.
Between and , one firm trained over 27, managers and supervisors to "make unions unnecessary" and surveyed almost one million employees in 4, organizations. In the United States shortly after , there were few effective employers' organizations that opposed the union movement.
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By , these organizations started to coalesce, and a national employers' movement began to exert a powerful influence on industrial relations and public affairs. For nearly a decade prior to , an industrial union called the Western Federation of Miners WFM had been increasing in power, militancy, and radicalism in response to dangerous working conditions, the imposition of long hours of work, and what members perceived as an imperious attitude on the part of employers.
In particular, members of the WFM had been outraged by employers' use of labor spies in organizing efforts such as Coeur d'Alene. The miners' frustrations had occasionally exploded in anger and violence, although they had also tried peaceful change. For example, after winning a referendum vote for the eight-hour day with support from 72 percent of Colorado's electorate, the WFM's goal of an eight-hour law was still defeated by employers and politicians. In , angry WFM members passed a convention proclamation that a "complete revolution of social and economic conditions" was "the only salvation of the working classes.
Across the nation, the first elements of a network of employers' organizations that would span the coming century were just beginning to arise. Anti-union organizations played increasingly prominent roles in American politics. In April , David M. Parry spoke to the annual convention of the National Association of Manufacturers NAM ,  delivering a speech critical of organized labor, asserting that trade unionism and socialism differ only in method, with both aiming to deny "individual and property rights".
Parry asserted the natural laws which governed the nation's economy, and he decried any interference with those laws, whether by legislative or other means. Parry asserted that the goals of the unions would inevitably lead to "despotism, tyranny, and slavery", and the "ruin of civilization. To control this threat to the status quo, Parry advised that the NAM begin organizing employers and manufacturers' associations into a great national anti-union federation. The NAM convention agreed to the recommendation, and created an employers' organizing committee with Parry in charge.
Parry began the organizing effort at once. The NAM has fought against organized labor for more than a century through affiliated organizations. After the La Follette Committee investigated employers and their anti-union allies, uncovering widespread abuses, the NAM denounced "the use of espionage, strikebreaking agencies, professional strikebreakers, armed guards, or munitions for the purpose of interfering with or destroying the legitimate rights of labor to self organization and collective bargaining.
Related Union Recognition: Organising and Bargaining Outcomes (Routledge Research in Employment Relations)
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