Friday, January 25, 2013

25 plantation workers picket demanding direct employment

If you do not have regular employment until retirement, what happens? If you are on 'short-term employment contracts'. what happens when you get older, get pregnant - will anyone employ you then? If you have only one skill, rubber tapping for instance - will you be able to get any other employment? What about wage increments as you grow older... would 'short-term employment contracts' take that into consideration? ...anyway, here is a story of plantation workers fighting for their rights..

Kerja tetap sehingga persaraan - itulah yang diperlukan oleh pekerja bukan kerja 'kontrak' jangka pendek - yang tidak ada jaminan kerja apabila tempoh kontrak tamat.

Perhubungan kerja dengan majikan tuan punya ladang atau kilang - bukan 'outsourcing' di mana mereka kerja di kilang dan ladang tetapi tidak menjadi pekerja-employee kilang atau ladang - tetapi pekerja-employee pihak ketiga - 'contractor for labour'..

Pekerja ladang piket untuk hak mereka tetapi di mana kerajaan? Kerajaan bertanggungjawab untuk memastikan hak dan kebajikan semua pekerja dan keluarga mereka. Kerajaan tidak ada - kerana kerajaan kini tidak lagi prihatin kepada pekerja, dan polisi mereka yang telah menghancurkan hak pekerja untuk kerja tetap, hak untuk mempunyai perhubungan kerja terus dengan majikan tuan punya kilang atau ladang...

Ex-tappers' picket over unkept promises

Friday, January 18, 2013 - 17:36

rubber tappers strike
Twenty five former estate workers picket in front of the estate owner Neoh Choo Ee & Co. Sdn Bhd's office to demand they be directly employed to work in the company's oil palm estate

THE implementation of the Minimum Wage Order has thrown 25 Ladang Lubok Sengintah workers into plain misery.

Some who have spent more than 25 years tapping in the rubber estate in Kedah, have been thrown into the deep end of unemployment, or expected to find other means of living.

Further frustrated by broken promises by their employers, the employees picketed in front of estate owner Neoh Choo Ee and Co Sdn Bhd's office in Lebuh Pantai today.

The group were spotted holding banners and placards to voice their grouses of injustice claiming that the company refused to absorb them as direct employees into its oil palm venture adjoining the now defunct 1,000-acre wide rubber estate.

They had pinned their hopes on a promise made by Plantation Agencies Sdn Bhd (PASB) director N. Jayaraman on Aug 7 that they would be directly employed in the new venture.

However, despite having served between five and 28 years as rubber tappers and general workers, they were told on Sept 1, 2012 that they would be hired as contract workers in the palm oil estate.

rubber tappers strike
Single mother S.Vasanthi said she hopes the company would relent to their direct employment demand so that she can support her family with a better salary

"We refuse to be contract workers because we won't be able to sustain with the measly salary.

"The plantation is managed by PASB on behalf of Neoh Ee Choo and they promised us direct employment but now they have rescinded the offer. They also issued us eviction notices on July 30 and Dec 1 last year, but we have nowhere to go.

"We are estate workers and we don't know any other jobs. We don't have other places to call our home too,” said Rathnam Krishnan, 54, who was laid off tapping after 28 years of working in the estate near Kuala Ketil, Kedah.

rubber tappers strike
Former rubber tapper Rathnam Krishnan, 54, said he has no house or skills apart from being an estate worker

The workers received compensations of between RM3,000 and RM15,000 after being told of the estate closure in July last year, said Kedah National Union of Plantation Workers secretary I. Santhanadass.

Speaking at the picket, he said the company is now compelled to pay the federal government's minimum wage of RM900 begining Jan 1 if they become direct employees.

"As contract workers, they would only receive a daily wage of about RM25 as oil palm harvesters and general workers. This will not do as they used to earn a monthly salary of RM650 with EPF and Socso benefits.

"However, the company would rather employ foreign workers for a reduced rate than absorb the 25 Malaysians who had served them faithfully.

"According to the law, a company can only employ foreign workers if there are no locals available for work. Here, you have locals but the company is trying to ignore the minimum wage policy by offering contract work," Santhanadass said.

S. Vasanthi, 48, is one of the 25.

A single mother of four, including a disabled child, the tapper said she would not be able to survive elsewhere because the estate job was all she knew.

"I received a compensation of RM10,000 after serving the estate for 23 years. How long do you think the money will last?

"I have to pay for my children's education, food and medical needs. I wish the company understood our plight better," she added.

On Dec 11, their frustation of receiving contractual employment was also highlighted by this newspaper.

Batu Uban state assemblyman S. Raveentharan who appeared at the picket said the former workers must be given priority and questioned what the Human Resources Minister had done to solve the problem in the past six months.

"Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam must compel the company to absorb the workers and pay them the minimum wage salary of RM900.

"The 1Malaysia idea of minimum wage is a failure if companies can circumvent it by employing foreign workers," Raveentharan said.

Both PASB and Neoh Choo Ee declined comment on the issue. - Malay Mail, 18/1/2013, Ex-tappers' picket over unkept promises


No place to go, say estate families

Denied right to work, workers asked to leave to make way for foreigners
Thursday, December 06, 2012 - 12:22

IN A DILEMMA: The estate workers handing over the memorandum listing their problems to Thanenthiran

TWENTY-FIVE families at Ladang Segintah here have been issued with notices to vacate their houses within two weeks.

They have urged the Human Resources Ministry to intervene to resolve their problem.

Otherwise, they say they would end up camping by the roadside as they have nowhere to go.

The affected families said they were shocked when the estate management issued the notice on Dec 1, which ordered them to vacate the estate quarters within 14 days.

They claimed the management had brought in more than 35 foreign workers to replace them and denied locals' right to continue to work in the estate.

The families have been jobless since July 31, after the estate management terminated their services. They were paid between RM5,000 and RM15,000 as compensation.

“We have no place to go now as the families have been staying in the estate for generations. We also have no other skills other than working in the estate," said M. Saravanan, 40.

“Who is going to employ us without any skills? Our future and our children’s future are at stake — we hope the government will help.”

He said an officer from the ministry had met them and the management more than a month ago to resolve the matter.

However, they have yet to be informed of the decision taken.

The management claimed the workers' services were not needed as the rubber processing plant is being closed down and the rubber trees will be chopped down.

Malaysia Makkal Sakti party president Datuk R.S. Thanenthiran and National Union of Plantation Workers (NUPW) Kedah chairman K. Ganesan and its secretary I. Santhanadas visited the workers yesterday.

"Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said every Malaysian gets a job, a house and a decent living in Malaysia, however, actions of some private firms deter the government in implementing its policies," said Thanenthiran.

He said he had obtained an appointment with PM’s personal secretary to hand over the memorandum to resolve the workers problem.

He also asked Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam to look into the matter.

Santhanadas said the management is trying to avoid the government’s rule to implement the RM900 basic salary for the estate workers.

“The management could only bring in foreign workers if no locals are available, but in this case the management had terminated the locals and engaged foreigners. We want the government to act upon the management,” he said.

Attempts to contact the management for comments failed.- Malay Mail, 6/12/2012, No place to go, say estate families

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