Local workers at embassies will become vulnerable if apex court sides the US

THE  workforce employed at foreign embassies stationed in Malaysia would be left without adequate job security if the Federal Court rules in favour of the US Embassy on a case involving the latter’s ex-staff.

“It will set a risky precedent where locals hired by foreign missions here will be left without protection. If that were to happen, foreign embassies here should not be allowed to hire locals,” Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) Workers Bureau chief M Sivaranjini told FocusM.

Earlier today, the US Embassy in Malaysia has approached the Federal Court to set aside an order to hear the unlawful dismissal case brought by its former security guard, L Subramaniam.

M Sivaranjini

Counsel Ragunath Kesavan, appearing for Subramaniam, said a legal firm representing the US Government had filed an application for leave at the apex court last week.

Subramaniam was working at the US embassy as a security guard for 20 years, until he received a phone call on Apr 4, 2008, informing the former that his service has been terminated with immediate effect.

A month later, Subramaniam lodged a report with the Industrial Relations Department (IRD), under Section 20 of the Industrial Relations Act for unlawful dismissal.

However, the US Embassy has been arguing that it enjoyed immunity against such proceeding, which was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on Feb 3.

Touching on the matter, Sivaranjini said it was ridiculous for the US Embassy to treat a long-serving staff like Subramaniam this way, when the matter could have been resolved amicably.

“If the Federal Court agrees with the US Embassy’s immunity argument, it will render all locals working at foreign missions at risk of getting laid off without remedy.

“Everyone is equal before the law and embassies are not exempted. Plus, they also have to adhere to the laws of the land where they operate,” she opined.

On Subramaniam, the PSM leader said although the former was weary of the long legal battle, he is determined to go all out.

“Subramaniam is upset on the way he was treated and he is determined to get justice over his unlawful dismissal,” Sivaranjini remarked. – March 8, 2021.

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