Almost a thousand people in Prai are braving a downpour to make their feelings known against proposed amendments to the Employment Act. The protest is part of a nationwide MTUC picket.
Passing motorists, especially factory and express bus drivers and lorries heading to the Prai Industrial Estate are honking in support as they pass by, each time raising huge cheers from the crowd, many of them with brollies up. Protesters are chanting, “Don’t amend labour laws”, “Jangan tindas pekerja“, and “hancur BN“. The continuous honking of passing motorists is deafening but no one is complaining.
In 2007, about a thousand people turned up in Prai as part of a nationwide MTUC picket to call for a minimum wage. It was the first step in the build-up to the “perfect storm” that struck during the March 2008 general election.
Among the crowd are several activists from the Penang Forum, including Dato Dr Toh Kin Woon.
Many plain clothes police around, some apparently with video cameras. A few uniformed police guiding traffic while others observing.
(The protest in Prai began at 5.00pm and ended peacefully at around 6.20pm.)
Protests are believed to be taking place in 17 locations nationwide.
Over in KL, Jerit reports that another 500 people have turned up at a gathering in Jalan Raja Laut in KL.
NSurendrann in PJ meanwhile reports that the crowd is growing at the MTUC picket along Jalan Barat.
In Ipoh, Sinar Online says that 200 people are picketing in front of the MTUC office.
Have a looka at the photos of the Shah Alam demonstration on the Liang Lahad blog.
Workers are worried that the amendments to the Employment Act would dramatically alter employer-employee relationship in situations where outsourced workers supplied by ‘contractors of labour’ are used. The amendments would regard the contractor rather than the factory owner as the employer. In this way, factory owners would be able to wash their hands off their traditional responsibility to the workers, and the workers’ right to unionise would be undermined.
So far, 115 civil society groups from across the region have endorsed a memorandum opposing the amendments.