In Parliament on Thursday, WP MP Jamus Lim created an upset when he described union leaders as having ‘folksy wisdom and beliefs’ that are not founded on evidence.
His words were:
“As much as it will be lovely to always rely on folksy wisdom and beliefs by labour union leaders… it’s worth reminding ourselves that there was a time when in the 16th century when people believed that the sun revolved around the earth but that belief is not the same as evidence..”
Here’s what union leaders have to say.
Show some respect. Don’t undermine the tripartite effort.
Sit with union leaders and learn from them
Union leader Karthikeyan: Jamus Lim knows nothing about workers and their worker representatives
He didn’t think deep enough
Union leaders are ordinary people with the willingness to sacrifice, face undue pressure to represent workers
A ‘folksy unionist’ and proud of it
Discrediting years of hard work; Uncalled for;
He’s an elitist!
Standing with fellow brothers and sisters in the Labour Movement
He should stop his economics theory and walk with us just to see
Don’t insult us.
Jamus spoke without facts and data
And from the former president of the Building Construction and Timbre Industries Employees Union:
The Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees’ Union (Batu) has always fought for the rights of our essential services workers in the environmental services industry.
In my former roles with it, I represented the union in the tripartite cluster for cleaners and also the tripartite cluster for landscape, which made the recommendations for the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) in the two industries.
It is regretful that the Workers’ Party’s Jamus Lim made comments in Parliament on Thursday not just belittling our hard work all these years, but also seemingly putting down the intricate issues involved in outsourced industries such as cleaning, landscape and lift maintenance.
Folksy, as we understand the term, refers to a simple manner of one being friendly and, perhaps, informal in behaviour. In other circumstances, unionists like us may not take offence at the term.
However, in the context of the parliamentary debate, when Associate Professor Lim alluded to “folksy” union leaders who think that the Sun revolves around the Earth, it belittles the years of hard work put in by unionists.
When working at the PWM for the cleaning and landscape industries, Batu engaged many workers to get feedback and went beyond just facts and figures from the stakeholders in the tripartite committees.
Between 2013 and 2018, real median monthly gross wages of full-time cleaners and landscape workers grew cumulatively by around 30 per cent and 32 per cent respectively.
Batu continued to lobby for improvements to the existing mandatory PWM sectors and, at the same time, pushed for expansion to other sectors as well.
There is no doubt all unionists care deeply for our workers. We wish for them to achieve more in their jobs, giving them the dignity of earning a decent living and the pride of career progression.
The PWM allows for that. Since the PWM was implemented, it has been easier to encourage workers to upskill themselves. We are confident this will bode well for them in the near future, even as the economy reshapes during this crisis.
Nasordin B. Mohd Hashim, Former president
Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees’ Union