In a four-part series, Charles Hector examines the history of the Malaysian workers’ struggle, focusing on the fight for independence, British suppression and the post-independence weakening of the labour movement.

The series documents how the Malaysian people and workers have been ‘weakened’ by the British colonial government, but alas the UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) led coalition that governed Malaysia since Independence have continued to weaken and deny rights/freedoms of workers. Many today are unaware of this loss of rights and freedoms, and as such, we need to look back at history to see what happened, how it happened and why?

Here, Charles looks at the labour movement in Malaysia – which at one time was very strong, with more than 50% of the total workforce being unionised workers. According to the Trade Union Affairs Department, only 875,193, or 6%, of the 14.5 million workers in the country, are currently union members – and it is declining.


To read this four-part series, follow the links below:

The state of the labour movement in Malaysia (Part 1)
The origins of the labour movement in M’sia (Part 2 of a series)
How the British suppressed the Malayan labour movement (Part 3)
The last breath of the labour movement?(Part 4)