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Penang Motor Vehicles Workshop Owners Association said besides suspending tow truck operations, they would also be closing car repair workshops. - NSTP/RAMDZAN MASIAM

GEORGE TOWN: Tow truck operators in the state have gone on strike in protest over alleged monopoly of automaker franchise workshops.

Penang Motor Vehicles Workshop Owners Association said besides suspending tow truck operations, they would also be closing car repair workshops.

“On Nov 12, we conducted a meeting with all members concerning the difficulties of the maintenance industry.

“After the discussion, we unanimously agreed to close operation effective from Dec 2 until further notice,” the association said in a statement today.

It added however the maintenance and technical department of the workshops would continue as usual.

“All towing cards and vests will be collected by the workshops and handed over to the association for safekeeping, while tow trucks will remain at the same place. All workshop owners, call men and employees are not allowed to appear at accident scenes or carry out their towing services within this period,” the association said, adding that the towing card of those found to have violated these conditions would be forfeited.

A member of the association Chan Kok Hoe said the main point of contention was the fact that the automakers workshop franchise were monopolising all car repair business.

“The franchise tells the car owners if they conduct any changes to the car such as tinting or auto radio repairs outside the workshop franchise, their car warranty would be void.

“This move is against the Competition Act,” he said, when met at Jalan Perusahaan Jelutong 2 here today, where more than 30 tow trucks gathered and drove off to Juru in mainland Penang, where they will be parked together with two trucks from mainland Penang until further notice.

Chan urged Bank Negara, Transport Ministry and Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) to look into the matter and come up with a favourable solution.

“This issue has been going on for a long time and all three bodies are aware of it. We decided to finally speak up against this situation as it is not fair to us especially with carmakers planning to extend the warranty period from five years to nine,” he said.

Chan also pointed out that the customers were also affected as they were unable to get repairs done cheaper at workshops compared to the automakers franchise.

“At automakers franchise workshops, you can be charged RM2,000 for a minor accident involving the bumper, when you can have it done for RM200 at other workshops,” he said, adding that car owners should have the right to choose which workshops they want to go to.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow’s political secretary Teh Lai Heng urged the association to postpone its decision to go on strike and resume negotiations with carmakers and insurance companies.

He also requested the Domestic Trade, Consumer Affairs Ministry to intervene and come up with a win-win solution.

“Suspension of the tow truck operation would only cause social disorder and inconvenience,” he added.

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