Asian Food Worker Frontpage
Malaysia: BAT Workers Stripped of Rights; Rally for Union
(above, below right) Kuala Lumpur, May 1, 2007: British American Tobacco Employees Union (BATEU) members rally in support of their union.
Since launching an attack designed to destroy the IUF-affiliated British American Tobacco Employee's Union (BATEU) in Malaysia (see background here), management at one of the world's largest tobacco companies have denied they are engaged in a union-busting exercise. The main tactic of the company has been to "offer" workers new positions where the company insists they are ineligible for union membership.

In fact, these "offers" were little more than thinly veiled exercises to destroy the union as workers were given no time to consider the "offer" or consult with their union. Workers were simply instructed to sign a new contract.

On May 1st, BATEU members (including workers who were no longer officially members) rallied in Kuala Lumpur with the national centre, the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC). Furthermore, sales force workers have written to the union outlining their concerns, disagreeing with the tactics of management and expressing their desire to remain with the union (letter printed below).

BATEU is one of the oldest trade unions in Malaysia and has represented workers at the company for several decades.

The General Secretary
British American Tobacco (M) Bhd Employees Union (BATEU)
Kuala Lumpur

We, the undersigned members of the BATEU, wish to express our dissatisfaction and unhappiness, over the manner the Company carried out the recent promotion exercise. On the 9th January, 2007, the company conducted a briefing session and we were told that our positions are out of the Union’s representation. Although our job functions remain unchanged, we were told that our job has been upgraded to management position and that we can no longer be the members of the Union.

Subsequently we were given a “new contract” and were forced to sign without any option to accept or reject the new contract. We as employees strongly feel that we should be given an option to exercise our “rights”. We were not even given time to think over the new offer or discuss this matter with our union officials.

We have been the members of the Union ever since we joined the company and wish to maintain as one. We therefore urge the Union to take up this matter seriously and assist us to continue our membership with Union.

Looking forward to the Union to resolve this matter.
Signed by overwhelming majority of workers in the sales force.

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