By Adib Zalkapli and G. Manimaran
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 21 — PKR’s Kuala Langat MP Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid is set to mount a high-profile campaign to contest the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general post this November.
Abdullah, who is also the Peninsular Malaysia Workers Clubs Union secretary-general – a post he has held for 20 years – contested the post in late 2007 but lost to veteran unionist G Rajasekaran by only four votes.
The decision by Abdullah to run for the post is seen as an attempt by PKR to mobilise for support ahead of the next general election which has to be held within the next three years.
The current MTUC president Syed Shahir Mohamud is also the Kelana Jaya PKR division chief. The umbrella body of trade unions represents some 500,000 workers.
“The post of the secretary-general must be occupied by someone who understands the plight of the workers,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
If elected, Abdullah will be the second parliamentarian to be made the MTUC secretary-general, after V David who was the secretary-general from 1976 to 1992.
Abdullah, who also heads the Parliamentary caucus on workers, dismissed the suggestion that if he succeeds, MTUC will be controlled by PKR.
“I don’t see it that way, I don’t think that having both president and secretary-general from PKR will compromise MTUC’s position. It will make us look consistent,” said Abdullah who has been an MTUC council member since 1994.
“I am offering myself because I want to fight for workers’ interest. Only Pakatan Rakyat has the knowledge and experience on workers issues,” he said.
As head of the caucus on workers, Abdullah is now fighting for minimum wage, setting up of a retirement fund and massive reform of the labour laws to ensure workers’ rights.
“Not just Pakatan MPs are backing the demand... we also have the support from Barisan MPs. It was only the human resource minister who was reluctant,” he said.
Abdullah further justified his decision to contest by saying that the MTUC — despite being led by a PKR man — has not been able to effectively fight for workers’ rights because of the lack of commitment from the union’s administration.
“In any union, it is the secretary that moves the organisation. The post may by unpopular, but I’m willing to take the responsibility,” he said.
Abdullah who claimed that he lost in 2007 because six unqualified delegates were allowed to vote, said he had met key trade union leaders for their endorsement. He added that their response have been encouraging.
“I’m announcing my decision early, so everyone can carry on with their jobs,” he said when asked about the early announcement