Revitalizing the Malaysian Trade Union Movement

The Case of the Electronics Industry

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    The article takes an historic perspective on contemporary issues of trade union revival in Malaysia, focusing on the challenge of raising union density and analysing the process of organizing employees in the strategically important electronics industry. It concludes that the political support for transnational corporations in the electronics industry is declining. This strategic shift enables union activists to bypass enterprise and state-based unions and to establish larger, regionally based unions. However, newly organized unions have not yet overcome resistance from global corporations, nor have trade unions been included in the larger politics of development strategies. Unions must be part of a larger socio-political movement and regime change in order to overcome the restrictive labour laws as well as the anti-union practices of transnational corporations. Yet the majority of the peak union organizations prefer non-partisan engagement. In order to revitalize themselves, the unions must demonstrate to the Malaysian public that they are both relevant and important for increased productivity and that they can play a significant role in enabling Malaysia to move beyond the middle-income ‘trap’ towards a more developed market economy.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
    Volume54
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)494-509
    ISSN0022-1856
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

    Keywords

    • Developing Country
    • Electronics Industry
    • Malaysia
    • Trade Union

    Cite this

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    Revitalizing the Malaysian Trade Union Movement : The Case of the Electronics Industry. / Wad, Peter.

    In: Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 54, No. 4, 2012, p. 494-509.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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    AB - The article takes an historic perspective on contemporary issues of trade union revival in Malaysia, focusing on the challenge of raising union density and analysing the process of organizing employees in the strategically important electronics industry. It concludes that the political support for transnational corporations in the electronics industry is declining. This strategic shift enables union activists to bypass enterprise and state-based unions and to establish larger, regionally based unions. However, newly organized unions have not yet overcome resistance from global corporations, nor have trade unions been included in the larger politics of development strategies. Unions must be part of a larger socio-political movement and regime change in order to overcome the restrictive labour laws as well as the anti-union practices of transnational corporations. Yet the majority of the peak union organizations prefer non-partisan engagement. In order to revitalize themselves, the unions must demonstrate to the Malaysian public that they are both relevant and important for increased productivity and that they can play a significant role in enabling Malaysia to move beyond the middle-income ‘trap’ towards a more developed market economy.

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