UEM Edgenta: A Government Linked Company and a Union Buster?

by A. Sivarajan

PSM condemns the actions of government owned company UEM Edgenta Mediserve Sdn Bhd (100% owned by UEM Edgenta) for ill-treating its workers who work as cleaners in government hospitals. Yesterday nearly 150 workers from government hospital cleaning services submitted a memorandum to YB Dr Dzulkefly Health Minister, complaining about UEM Edgenta. The company, being a government GLC owned by Khazanah Nasional should be ashamed of behaving like a ‘union buster’. Government hospital cleaners who were government staff previously had a change in fate when cleaning, laundry and maintenance services were privatized in the mid 1990’s.

The Health Ministry then gave away privatized concessions to companies for a period of 20-30 years approximately, divided into northern, central and southern regions. UEM Edgenta Mediserve Sdn Bhd has been the concessionaire for the northern region for 15 years from 2010 to 2025. managing government hospitals in Perak, Penang etc. UEM Edgenta Mediserve then appoints several sub-contractors to employ these workers in cleaning services.

Lately, UEM Edgenta Mediserve Sdn Bhd through its subsidiary Edgenta UEMS Sdn Bhd (UEMS) has been reported to be harassing the workers to resign and sign up as new employees with them. Most of these workers have a long record of service of more than 20 years and UEMS is maliciously trying to break the continuity of service and the workers’ union. UEMS Site supervisors have been recorded to have threatened the workers with termination if they refuse to resign and apply afresh.

UEMS too has declared that they refuse to follow the ongoing Collective Agreement signed by the National Union of Workers in Hospitals Support and Allied Services when they take over, effective 1st January, 2020.

While the Human Resources Ministry has made the right move to amend the Industrial Relations Act 1967 to remove hurdles to unionization and collective bargaining , a wholly government owned company UEM Edgenta is behaving like a union buster. PSM acknowledges that the system of privatization of cleaning services that has led to the work insecurity and loss of benefits of the workers today was the doing of the previous BN regime. Nevertheless, Dr Dzulkefly the PH Health Minister has the responsibility to correct the many wrongs and reevaluate these concession agreements given out to union busting employers.

Government owned GLCs should instead practice healthy industrial relations with unions and workers to set an example for employers in the private sector, but UEM Edgenta is clearly out to destroy the union and trample upon workers rights. Their concession agreement should not be renewed if they fail to buck up and respect workers’ rights.

PSM Secretary General

3rd December 2019

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