Ex-teachers' union leader John Gurusamy dies (NST 2011) PDF Print E-mail


Ex-teachers’ union leader John Gurusamy dies



By: Rozanna Latiff & Predeep Nambiar

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(Article reproduced from New Straits Time)




KUALA LUMPUR: Dr. John Ratnasingam Gurusamy, a former trade union leader and the man behind the 1967 National Union of Teachers strike, died at Selayang Specialist Hospital on Saturday after a long illness. He was 75.


He was a teacher, lawyer, former Gerakan vice-president and, in his later years, an activist for religious harmony and interfaith dialogue.


But he made his greatest impact 34 years ago as NUT secretary-general, when he led 10,000 teachers in the first industrial action of its kind.


Between March 28 and April 15, 1967 teachers in Peninsular Malaysia went on strike for 21/2 hours a day to demand for better rights and salaries, after two commissions set up to look into the problems of teachers failed to publish their findings.


Finally, a royal commission, formed in response to the strike and chaired by former High Court judge Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Zain, published a report in 1970 recommending comprehensive changes in salaries and teaching services in line with the teachers’ demands.


Among the changes were: salary parity for teachers doing equal work (ensuring equal pay for female teachers), salary parity for teachers with equal qualifications, granting of civil servant status and ensuring benefits such as housing, medical services and pension for all teachers.


The changes streamlined the teaching services.


Gurusamy graduated in 1958 from the Malayan Teachers’ College, Penang, before becoming an active unionist, rising to the post of NUT secretary-general in 1963.


During the same period, he was also the assistant secretary-general in Malaysian Trades Union Congress.


In 1969, he left to study law in the United Kingdom before being appointed to the English Bar in 1972.


He joined Gerakan in the mid-1970s and was later appointed as vice-president in 1980.


Dr. John Gurusamy



In his final years, he was active in church work and was a prominent figure in the humanitarian community as the coordinator of the Malaysian Interfaith Network.


National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) president Hashim Adnan said Gurusamy was “a strong and spirited leader whose fight in the union will be remembered forever”.


Gurusamy is survived by his wife, Datuk Ramani Gurusamy, who is National Council of Women’s Organisations deputy president, three children and two grandchildren.


The funeral service will be held at St. Paul’s Church, off Jalan Timur, Petaling Jaya, at noon today.



Dr. John Gurusamy



The late Dr. John Gurusamy was an active member of MBSOBA and later became the vice-president of Methodist Boys' School Old Boys Association (now MBSalumni). May he rest in peace. 






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