A Comparison of Business in Malaysia vs Canada

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Labour Relations in Canada

The largest national federation in Canada, whose member unions account for almost three-quarters of all union workers, is the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). As of 2003, it consisted of 113 member unions, which in combination comprised over 10,000 locals (Godard 220). The CLC attempts to influence the formulation and administration of government laws and policies. Union density in Canada (that is to say, the percent of non-agricultural paid workers who are members of a union) was 30.5% in 2003. Half of all union employees are in the public sector. As for eligibility to join a union, workers are generally deemed eligible under most Canadian legislations unless they are a managerial employee, or an employee in a position of confidentiality by virtue of their access to sensitive information. Also in some jurisdictions, professional employees and domestics are excluded as well. General practise for union recognition is when 50 percent plus one of the total eligible workers votes in favour of the union. (283) Collective agreements can be highly complex and usually vary a great deal in both their structure and their content. The six aspects of an agreement are: Wages/benefits, hours of work and overtime, work rules, job and income security, seniority, and union security and rights. These are the most important clauses but often the most controversial (378). Labour law plays a critical role in shaping the structure and functioning of the Canadian industrial relations system. It does so by first recognizing and protecting the rights of workers to join unions and to bargain collectively with management over the terms and conditions of their employment. Secondly, labour law helps to maintain and protect the organizational basis and hence the strength of the labour movement in Canada. Labour law states, for example, that management may not dismiss workers for legitimate union activities, even if these appear to form only part of the reason for dismissal. Strikes are undoubtedly the most dramatic form of labour-management conflict, with both sides undergoing considerable expenses and stress. Workers feel it is important to have the right to strike not for the sake of the right itself, but for being able to impose costs on management through the strike (336). The ability to strike without fear of reprisal is critical to freedom of expression. When workers are discontent, strike activity is a primary means through which to express this unhappiness. Striking workers in Canada have no reason to fear they could lose their jobs merely for exercising what is generally considered a human right as it is law that management may not hire permanent replacement workers during the strike. Canada has one of the highest levels of strike activity in the world. The last major strike in Canada happened during 1995-1998 when, to protest Conservative provincial government policies, more than 250,000 union members and supporters picketed both public and private businesses in Toronto. The attempt to shut down the city was called the "Days of Protest".

Labour Relations in Malaysia

As in Canada, trade unions maintain their independence in Malaysia. The ultimate goal of trade unionism is to pursue the establishment of an egalitarian society. Malaysia is not an egalitarian society by any means, but trade unions play an important role in the country in trying to ensure that all workers are kept satisfied, regardless of race. The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) is a multireligious, multiracial and multicultural mass organization. More than 300 trade unions are affiliated to this workers-only national centre in Malaysia. The MTUC is solely committed to achieving the demands of working people. Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has been especially hostile towards the MTUC. He has refused to meet with the organization on several occasions, and has been named as responsible for major setbacks to the union movement ever...
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