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Soft drinks manufacturer sacks eight union officials

KUALA LUMPUR, 12 Feb 2009: Eight officials of the National Union of Drink Industry Workers (NUDIW) have been sacked for allegedly “master-minding an illegal strike” at the F&N and Coco Cola factory in Shah Alam.

The union’s advisor, A Sivananthan told a news conference today that the company’s action was tantamount to union busting because those sacked were all senior officials.

Those sacked were the union’s president, Omar Embot, 51 and secretary-general S Nadarajan, 49, and six other committee members.

The union is demanding that the eight be re-employed immediately.

Sivananthan claimed that by sacking the principle officials, the company intended to weaken the union, which represents 320 workers in the factory.  

He said the dispute with the company was that some of the workers had been forced to do overtime work and they refused to do so during the last Chinese New Year period.

Under the collective agreement, the company had to get the consent of the workers to do overtime work. To refuse overtime work was the workers’ right, he said.

Sivanathan said the workers, by refusing to do overtime, were merely following the collective agreement and as such, they should not be penalised.  

The other grouse of the union was that the sacking was done without an internal inquiry.

“The workers were given a show-cause letter and were required to reply within 14 days, which they did.

“After handing in their replies, the company just terminated their services without any inquiry,” Sivananthan said, adding that this was a violation of basic human rights.

Meanwhile, The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) of which the NUDIW is an affiliate, called on the Industrial Relations Department to arrange an immediate meeting between the company and the union to find an amicable settlement to the dispute.

Its president, Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud, said it would in the interest of both parties to talk and settle the issue, especially during this difficult economic situation.

The company’s managing director, James Teoh, told Bernama that it was aware of the termination and would give a detailed reply tomorrow. — Bernama


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