Malaysia is one of Asia's biggest employers of foreign labour. But recently, cases of deaths, abuse and forced labour have come to light. What is going on? Who is protecting these migrant workers?
KUCHING: The MTUC Sarawak has warned in a statement that it may have no choice but to join employees and take “protest actions” against Sarawak Plantation Bhd, held substantially by the Sarawak Government, “if the company continues to act in an arbitrary manner.”
MTUC said that it regrets that companies in which the Sarawak Government was a major shareholder or has major interest, are among the worst employers when it comes to respecting employees’ rights.
This makes a mockery of Chief Minister Adenan Satem’s vision of a caring and harmonious Sarawak, added the statement. The MTUC statement cited a running feud that it was having with Sarawak Plantation Bhd as a case in point. “The company continues to employ thousands of people from the peninsula and foreigners while getting rid of local workers.”
“The manner of retrenchment was arbitrary, without any regard for the legitimate expectations of claimants and has created shock and despair among employees.”
Reiterating that only local workers were being retrenched by the company, the statement lamented that the practice had destroyed the morale of employees as there was every likelihood that other employees would be retrenched in a similar manner. “MTUC and the claimants have attempted to find an amicable solution and make reasonable proposals during reconciliation talks.”
“The company refuses to consider our requests.”
The MTUC said that there was no evidence of a bona fide redundancy situation in the company, its subsidiaries or associated companies. “There’s no evidence to show that the jobs of claimants were redundant.”
“The company’s financial position continues to be stable and robust.”
There’s no evidence, continued the statement, that the company undertook cost-cutting measures as outlined in the Code of Conduct, prior to retrenching the claimants. “During reconciliation talks at the Industrial Relations Department, Ministry of Human Resources, the company did not produce any concrete evidence to substantiate the need to resort to retrenchment.”
“The company’s actions continue to be capricious, mala fide and actuated by victimisation and unfair labour practices.”
One recent redundancy exercise, said the MTUC statement, involved 37 local employees in Miri and Kuching.
“They were summoned to the Conference Room in Miri and Kuching and given termination letters. They were told to leave immediately.”
“The company deliberately conducted the retrenchment in a cloak-and-dagger manner. There were no prior notices or discussion with the affected employees.”
The redundancy exercise began, claimed the statement, when the 37 workers found their sign-in passwords blocked. “As a result, they were unable to sign-in to perform their duties. Then, they were summoned to the Conference Room.”
“The company did not take the necessary steps, as provided for in the Code of Conduct for Industrial Harmony, to use retrenchment as a last resort.”
There’s nothing to show, charged MTUC, that the company, being a public-listed company, did anything a reasonable employer was expected to do under the Code. “It has been learnt that the jobs of the 37 workers are not redundant. They are being performed by other non-local employees in the company.”
Source: Free Malaysia Today
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