Tuesday, March 02, 2010

KL High Court: Sacked employee can lead union

The Kuala Lumpur High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) today ruled that a dismissed employee can hold an officer's position in a union.

In a case brought by the National Union of Bank Employees (Nube) challenging a letter from the director-general of trade union (DGTU) on the position of its secretary-general J Solomon, justice Alizatul Khair Osman allowed the Nube's application for a declaration that a member who had been dismissed, discharged or retrenched from employment could still be deemed a member of the union.

Alizatul also allowed the second prayer sought by the union and 10 of its members for a declaration that the Trades Union Act 1959, read together with the Industrial Relations Act 1967, does not prevent a member who has been dismissed, discharged or retrenched from holding office as a member.

Alizatul, who also ordered costs to the plaintiffs, said said the court would not be making any ruling on the third prayer since the plaintifs had withdrawn it.

In the third prayer, the union had sought a declaration that Solomon, who was elected secretary-general on Aug 7, 2005, and re-elected to the same post on July 26, 2008, was rightly and lawfully elected.

With today's decision, Solomon will remain as Nube secretary-general until 2011.

The Nube filed an originating summons on Aug 20, 2008 after receiving the letter from the DGTU.

In its statement of claim, it said that the first defendant (DGTU) never raised the issue of Solomon's dismissal from CIMB Bank Berhad in 2004 and allowed the elections of the union in 2005 and 2008.

The union also contended that in a letter dated June 26, 2008, the director-general had taken the position to disqualify Solomon from being a member of the union after seeking an interpretation of section 26(1)(a) of the Trades Union Act 1959 from the Attorney-General's Chambers.

Solomon filed for a judicial review at the High Court after the Industrial Court upheld his dismissal by CIMB in 2004.

Senior federal counsel Norazmi Mohd Norawi, for the DGTU, submitted that section 26(1)(a) of the Trades Union Act 1959 clearly stated that a person holding a position in a trade union must be a "workman" and employee of the union.

He urged the court not to allow the application saying that the DGTU did not make any decision and just gave advice to the Nube on the issue.

Solomon told reporters later that the DGTU should not been seen as being vindictive to outspoken trade union leaders and should take steps to engage more with unionists.

- Bernama

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