Industrial court chairman tenure extended to an unprecedented four years from two

THE decision to extend the tenure of industrial court chairmen will be a big boost towards clearing the backlog of cases and to provide continuity for cases that are being heard.

The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) president Senator Tan Sri Low Kian Chuan said the extension of the chairmen’s tenure to four years from two years previously provides a reasonable period of time for the chairmen to perform their responsibilities.

He nevertheless stressed that the appointment must be based on skill competencies and ability to contribute effectively within a conducive working environment, improving industrial climate and fostering good relations between employers and their employees.

Tan Sri Low Kian Chuan

“The reforms and improvements for the industrial court should entail a review of the necessity for other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms instead of solely relying on the industrial court in order to clear the backlog of cases that caused delay in settlement of labour dispute,” he told FocusM.

Low went on to propose the setting up of a centre for alternative dispute settlement along the UK’s Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service in Malaysia.

Senior industrial relations practitioner Pravin Kaur Jessy described the extension of tenure for industrial court chairmen as a “significant decision” which marks a crucial milestone in addressing a long-standing issue within the industrial court system.

“Under the previous system, industrial court chairmen faced uncertainty due to their tenure being limited to fixed-term contracts of two years subject to renewal,” she pointed out.

Pravin Kaur Jessy

“This lack of security posed challenges for the effective functioning of the court, hindering the chairmen’s’ ability to focus on their responsibilities with the looming concern of contract renewals”.

As such, Pravin applauded the swift action by Human Resources Minister Steven Sim Chee Keong to addressing key issues within the legal system.

“The Minister’s decision to extend the tenure of industrial court chairmen to four years is a commendable step forward,” she noted. “This extension will provide chairmen with the stability and confidence needed to carry out their duties efficiently, thereby facilitating the timely resolution of cases and reducing backlog.”

Added Pravin: “By ensuring that industrial court chairmen have adequate security of tenure, the Minister has not only addressed a pressing issue but has also demonstrated his dedication to upholding fairness and justice within the judicial process.

“The previous slow renewal process often led to delays in case hearings, causing significant inconvenience for claimants, particularly those nearing the age of 60.”

The decision to extend the tenure was to ensure that court processes can be carried out smoothly given that there was no reasonable security of tenure previously, according to HR Minister Sim.

“It was also based of ensuring that there is no delay in the court processes as there have been complaints about delays at the courts. At present, the industrial court has 20 chairmen, including the president,” he justified.

Earlier, Sim announced five new indudstrial court chairmen, namely Amrik Singh, Eswary Maree, Augustine Anthony, Paramalingam Doraisamy and Syed Noh Said Nazir @ Syed Nadzir.

In his speech, the Bukit Mertajam MP added that his ministry is the process of appointing two more chairmen.

The closure of the industrial court in October 2020 following implementation of the movement control order (MCO) had caused a backlog of cases, hence delaying the results and potential awards for workers. – Feb 23, 2024

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