The Trade Union (Amendment) Bill 2022 ' What Are The Proposed Changes To The Trade Union Act 1959?

Law FirmShearn Delamore & Co.
Subject MatterEmployment and HR, Employee Rights/ Labour Relations
AuthorMr Sivabalah Nadarajah
Published date07 February 2023


The Trade Union (Amendment) Bill 2022 ("Bill") was passed on 5 October 2022 at the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives) and the Bill is currently pending revision and approval by the Dewan Negara (Senate).

In this update, we highlight some of the key amendments proposed to the Trade Union Act 1959 ("TUA") pursuant to the Bill, and the potential impacts and concerns that may arise from the proposed amendments.

Key Amendments Proposed to the TUA

1. Definition of "trade union"/ "union"

Based on the Explanatory Statement to the Bill, the main objective of the Bill is to remove restrictions on the formation of a trade union based on a particular establishment or similarity in trade, occupation, or industry and to allow multiplicity of trade unions within any establishment, trade, occupation, or industry.

Currently, under the TUA, "trade union" or "union" is defined as

"any association or combination of workmen or employers... within any particular establishment, trade, occupation or industry or within any similar trades, occupations or industries..."

Therefore, the Bill is now proposing to remove the limitation of trade unions/unions to a particular establishment, trade, occupation, or industry or to similar trades, occupations, or industries.

Further to the proposed change in definition, the Bill also proposes some consequential amendments in line with the stated objective of the Bill, which includes a proposal to allow any person who is a workman or an employer (including any workman who had been dismissed, discharged, retrenched, or retired) to be a member of any trade union, provided that the rules of the particular trade union allow for it, regardless of the establishment, trade, occupation or industry in respect of which the trade union is registered.

Therefore, pursuant to the proposed amendments, more than one trade union could be formed in a single workplace and that a single trade union may potentially have unlimited types of members which can be from a different workplace, trade, occupation, industry, and locality altogether. In other words, multiplicity of trade unions and omnibus trade unions will be allowed pursuant to the proposed amendments.

2. Time frame for registration of a trade union

The time frame for an application for registration of trade union is proposed to be increased from one month to six months; and the maximum extension of time which may be granted by the DGTU is proposed to be increased from six months in...

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