Five activists fighting for the better treatment of hospital cleaners have been granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal for a protest they held during the movement control order (MCO).
This is after the prosecution accepted the defence's representation to not proceed with the charges.
In June, police arrested National Union of Workers in Hospital Support and Allied Services (NUWHSAS) executive secretary M Saraswathy and four others for protesting against employer Edgenta UEMS outside the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh.
The five then claimed trial to a charge of violating Section 7(1) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020 which prohibits gatherings in public areas.
The protest by the five was to express concerns over what they claimed was poor treatment of hospital cleaners by Edgenta UEMS including not being given enough essential protective equipment, denial of their union rights and forcing workers to change their working hours and shifts.
UEM Edgenta Bhd issued an explanation in response to the protest and denied the various accusations levelled at it.
Lawyer for the five, Bawani KS, in the letter of representation, argued that the protest could not be considered as a gathering or march related to either the economy, religion, education, sports, recreation, social or culture as stated under Section 7(1) of the MCO law.
According to an article by PSM, Bawani also argued that the unionists' actions were not a prohibited activity that was listed in Regulation 2 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020.
NUWHSAS official L Danaletchumi, one of the five acquitted, thanked everyone who supported them.
"Without support from the public, the media and NGOs we wouldn't have gotten this result
"It shows that workers have support from everyone and workers' power can win with support," she told Malaysiakini.
Additional reporting by Fion Yap