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Trade Unions

Volume 476: debated on Wednesday 28 June 1950

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the total membership of the trade unions in Malaya; and what percentage of the workers eligible for membership this represents.

The present membership of employees' trade unions in the Federation of Malaya is 42,695, representing 5 per cent. of workers eligible for membership. The corresponding figures for Singapore are 49,266 and 18.3 per cent.

In view of the minute percentage in the Federation, in spite of very strenuous efforts on the part of the labour officers, does not this suggest that trade unionism in its present form in Malaya makes very little appeal to the workers?

On the contrary, it does appeal. The hon. Gentleman should realise that there are, to put it mildly, certain difficulties existing in Malaya, and unfortunate experiences which rather tended to drive people away from the trade unions as a result of the action of the Communist-dominated federation of trade unions which appropriated the funds for jungle warfare.

Is my hon. Friend aware that although a large number of employers in Malaya encourage trade unionism, there is quite a large number who discourage it, and who will do all they possibly can to prevent their employees from joining a trade union?

His Majesty's Government are quite satisfied that the best way of building up good and solid relations in the Colonies is by the establishment of sound trade unions.

Would the Under-Secretary deny or demand proof of the statement just made by his hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery), which casts a bad reflection on people who are not able to answer personally.

To which unions do the labourers getting 4s. 9½d. a day belong; and do not these figures show a great need for increasing trade union membership in Singapore?