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KTM Update: Railwaymen’s Union to strike at the ‘heart’ of Malaysia?

Any way you look at it, the recent protest by the Railwaymen’s Union appears to be a game changer in Malaysian politics and certainly within the public transport industry.

Not only has the RUM protested publicly & directly against KTMB President Dr. Aminuddin, the Chief of RUM (Abdul Razak Md. Hassan) has clearly threatened that he will encourage his members to vote strategically in any upcoming election.

This voting talk is clearly a political “shot across the bow” against the Prime Minister, the Barisan Nasional, and UMNO (Abdul Razak is an UMNO member so this becomes intriguing).

The thing that makes the issue even hotter would be the blatant warnings given at the recent protest held on 29 July 2011 – a protest which (to our observation) was not really covered by the mainstream media – in which Abdul Razak threatened a Railway worker’s strike during the Balik Kampung period, which would have a detrimental affect on Hari Raya travel … a clearly upsetting situation especially since tickets to the East Coast for the Balik Kampung period have already sold out.

And since this year Hari Raya Aidilfitri may take place on 31 August 2011, a railway worker’s strike during the Balik Kampung / Aidilfitri period would also affect celebrations of Merdeka Day.

But why?

Get out! RUM tells KTMB boss
Patrick Lee | July 30, 2011

Union threatens disruption of train services for Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations if Aminuddin Adnan does not resign immediately.

KUALA LUMPUR: Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) employees want their president, Aminuddin Adnan, to step down immediately or face a drastic backlash.

“Malaysia’s trains may come to a screeching halt during the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations if [Dr. Aminuddin] does not quit,” said Abdul Razak Md Hassan, chief of the Railwaymen’s Union of Malaya (RUM).

“We want the government to end the president of KTMB’s contract or we will take drastic action!” he told hundreds of KTMB employees in front of the company’s KL headquarters.

“First of all, work to rule, be careful with Hari Raya!” warned Razak. “There’s real possibility that KTMB workers would go on strike.”

RUM leaders speak during the recent picket of KTMB Headquarters on 29 July 2011. Image courtesy of Free Malaysia Today.

More than 300 disgruntled KTMB employees took part in a picket along Jalan Sultan Hishammuddin at around 6pm yesterday evening.

Armed with air horns, the crowd, some hailing from as far away as Alor Star, Kedah, were boisterous as they announced their arrival in front of the KTMB office.

They also carried protest banners, all of them against Aminuddin’s position as KTMB president.

Some of the signs held up during the recent RUM picket of KTMB Headquarters which took place on 29 July 2011. Image courtesy of Free Malaysia Today.

“It’s too late to negotiate, KTMB president. Banggang (stupid),” and “The KTMB president should learn how to be a leader,” read some of them.

[TRANSIT: Unbelievable!]

Unfurling banners and handing out RUM badges, the protest also took on a carnival-like atmosphere, with the crowd belting out the union’s anthem and the patriotic “Inilah Barisan Kita”.

‘Culture of fear’

The picket was the second of its kind in the last two years. In July last year, 200 RUM members picketed outside the KTMB headquarters in Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin.

They demanded that the Electric Train Service (ETS) remain within KTMB’s purview, instead of becoming a separate private subsidiary. They too, called for Aminuddin’s resignation.

Later on, the union met with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and presented their views. Najib is in charge of the Finance Ministry, which oversees KTMB.

Although the government acceded to their demands over the ETS, Najib asked RUM to be patient with Aminuddin, who only became KTMB president in August 2009.

Aminuddin was previously the president of the Express Rail Link, a YTL subsidiary.

But RUM appears to have had enough of the KTMB president. Aminuddin, they said, was to blame not only for the company’s poor performance, but also the alleged RM300m loss of KTMB’s cash reserves and overdrafts.

FMT previously reported the union accusing him of creating a “culture of fear” within the company, with KTMB senior officials allegedly being punished for being union-friendly.

Members from other unions also supported this evening’s picket. Khalid Atan, Malayan Trades Union Congress (MTUC) president slammed KTMB’s top management for ignoring its workers.

“We want (KTMB’s) leaders to see this. We don’t want RUM to be sidestepped,” he said.

Representatives from the International Transport Federation, National Union of Bank Employees and even the Malaysian Airlines union (MASEU) were also at the protest.

The picket ended at around 6.35pm, with the crowd dispersing peacefully.


Why are transport workers becoming political all of a sudden?

We can understand that the RUM may have grievances against Dr. Aminuddin (despite the fact that there appears to be more complaining than actual issues being presented) and they may wish to express their grievances in a vocal manner – but why is RUM specifically going political, and why are they doing it now?

Not to mention, why are they threatening to strike during Balik Kampung / Aidilfitri? This isn’t likely to endear them to the public, who are already frustrated to no end with KTM services.

Is there some other kinds of politics (not partisan, not policy-related, but perhaps internal?) that is behind what is going on here? Or is it just a very vocal union that is angry with their company president for the reasons identified above (and below, in Bahasa Malaysia)?

Lebih dari 300 pekerja-pekerja kesatuan Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad(RUM) terpaksa mengadakan piket secara aman hari ini pada pukul 6.00petang di perkarangan Ibu pejabat KTMB Jalan Hishamuddin Kuala Lumpur bagi melahirkan ‘Bantahan Sekeras-kerasnya bagi penyambungan kontrak Presiden KTMB’.

Kesatuan Pekerja-Pekerja KTMB melahirkan rasa kekecewaan dengan penyambungan kontrak Dr. Aminuddin Bin Adnan sebagai Presiden KTMB selama dua tahun bermula 1hb Ogos 2011 sehingga 31hb Julai 2013. Penyambungan kontrak ini menimbulkan rasa kurang senang kesatuan berikutan perhubungan diantara kesatuan dengan Presiden KTMB telah punah berikutan Presiden KTMB tidak mengganggap Kesatuan sebagai rakan kongsi sebaliknya beranggapan kesatuan adalah ‘musuh”.

Mengikut Presiden RUM, Abdul Razak Md Hassan, penilaian kesatuan mendapati bahawa Dr.Aminuddin tidak menjalankan tugas dengan cemerlang dalam menjana pendapatan yang baik malah telah menyebabkan KTMB mengalami kerugian. Perancangan yang lemah dalam urusan membangunkan KTMB menjadikan semua “Strategy Bussiness Unit” (SBU) jatuh kerugian, ini terbukti melalui pencapaian KPI beliau dalam melaksanakan tugas sebagai Presiden KTMB. Ini sudah tentunya menimbulkan kesangsian kepada kesatuan apabila kontrak beliau disambungkan walaupun beliau menunjukkan prestasi yang buruk sehingga kegagalan menerajui KTMB yang menyebabkan semua pendapatan SBU telah jatuh berbanding pendapatan tahun-tahun sebelumnya.

Di samping itu perlantikan satu lagi CEO oleh Lembaga Pengarah untuk mengendalikan kargo, Multimodal dan KTM Distributors juga membuktikan bahawa beliau tidak layak untuk menerajui kepimpinan KTMB. Ini juga telah menimbulkan kesangsian kepada kesatuan bagaimana beliau telah direkemenkan oleh Lembaga Pengarah untuk disambung kontrak dan diluluskan oleh Kementerian kewangan sebagai Presiden KTMB.

Pihak kesatuan memohon kepada pihak yang bertanggungjawab dalam perlantikan Dr. Aminuddin bin Adnan “MEMBATALKAN ATAU MENAMATKAN KONTRAK PRESIDEN KTMB SERTA MERTA” seterusnya memberi peluang kepada mereka yang lebih layak untuk menerajui KTMB. Kesatuan juga meminta YAB Dato’ Seri Mohd Najib supaya campurtangan dalam hal ini bagi kesejahteraan semua pekerja keretapi Tanah Melayu.

Piket ini telah dihadiri oleh Sdra Khalid Atan, Presiden MTUC, mantan MTUC Sdra Zainal Rampak, Sdra Syed Shahir, Sdra Shafie Mammal, pemimpin-pemimpin MTUC dan pemimpin-pemimpin kesatuan gabungan. Piket yang berlangsung lebih dari satu setengah jam telah berlangsung secara aman dan kehadiran pihak polis juga tidak dapat dinafikan, lebih dari 50 polis telah berada di kawasan piket bagi mengawal sebarang kemuskilan atau keadaan yang tidak diingini.

Dilaporkan oleh Wartawan Masyarakat
K.S Tan dan R.Rajeswari


Taking the topic back to Dr. Aminuddin, he has certainly been gracious about the protests from the Union and has stated that he is ready for a reasonable discussion. Which makes us wonder, are the protests the RUM’s way of establishing their position, or a way to show that they do not respect dialogue & discussion? Some of the comments seen above suggest that RUM is not ready to talk … meaning that the ultimatum that they have thrown out (disruption to rail travel and strategic voting) are very likely to happen unless PM Najib accedes to their demands.

And since the PM already acceded to the demands of Perkasa with respect to the MRT project, who is to say that he will not do the same with RUM?

We at TRANSIT do not like what is happening … it’s not that we are against protests, but we are upset that RUM would protest in this manner … clearly aggressive & insulting and showing that they are not ready to talk.

We are also upset that public transport users are being forced to sit in the sidelines by the Government, KTMB and the RUM. We are part of this as well.

So we wish to remind the other 3 stakeholder groups that their success depends on the patronage of the public. If the public is driven away (pun intended) from KTM & railway services, the RUM will lose, KTMB will lose, the public will lose … and yes, Malaysia will certainly lose.

The government has made it clear that improvements to urban public transport are part and parcel of their policy. But they must also realize that these improvements must come with full participation of all stakeholders.

Putting the politics aside, we feel that the RUM protest may be a result of feelings that their needs are not being considered by the government & KTMB Management. But the nature of this protest shows us that the feelings are deep and the situation is turning ugly.

In other words, someone needs to bring all 4 stakeholder groups to the discussion table, and do it fast.

4 replies on “KTM Update: Railwaymen’s Union to strike at the ‘heart’ of Malaysia?”

this situation reminds me of mahathir’s story when he was a chairman of a government-linked pineapple company back in the 70’s

he wrote that the workers there think that their job is their right from the government so no need to work hard, no need to pursue profit. sometimes, when the management enforce some discipline on the workers, the workers would strike back by sabotaging their own product, thinking what would hurt the company, would hurt the management.

of course, mahathir would latter tell, hurting the company would hurt the workers itself cause a bankrupt business does not pays workers. the irony is, according to mahathir, the worker thinks that the government-supplied job is a lifetime right that could not be taken away…

IMHO, ktm needs to be run as a operator/business to be sucessful. but mindset needs to change. workers need to have stakes in what they are doing.too bad politics got in the way. i guess this is what they call “tyranny of democracy…”

Not only mindset of ordinary staff needs to change but more important is The President also needs to be change.

Wahai Kesatuan Sekerja Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad, kami penumpang yang sering tidak dipedulikan oleh Presiden anda apabila aduan dibuat tentang kelewatan tren dsbnya akan sentiasa berada dibelakang anda menyokong penamatan atau penarikan semula kontrak lanjutan jawatan presiden KTMB. Kami dah bosan dengan Presiden anda.

Kalau anda ingin mendapatkan tandatangan petisyen dari kami, insyallah kami akan gembira melakukannya. Dapatkanlah kami di platform. Presiden anda perlu di tukar dan diganti. Pemimpin yang gagal berfungsi dengan sewajarnya tidak boleh diberikan ruang kerana ianya akan merosakkan bangsa dan organisasi. HIDUP RUM.

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