Tuesday, February 25, 2014

PKNS termination of workers - was there a DI and payments of compensation?

Will the defeat of the Barisan Nasional, and the rise of Pakatan Rakyat be better for workers? That has been the question in the minds of many, and looking at the commitments made in the last General Elections, it is all still very vague.

PR never even made a stand that they will bolish the 'contractor for labour' system, that received statutory recognition in 2012. Now Malaysian Trade Union Congress(MTUC), that represents ALL workers and Unions, other unions and civil society strongly objected the 'contractor for labour' - which destroys direct employment relationship with them that need workers for their factories and businesses. The effect is that employers can not only avoid employer obligations for after all these 'workers' are not their own employees - but merely workers supplied by some other 3rd party. These allows also for real discrimination amongst workers working in the same workplace. The '3rd party supplied-workers' also will not be able to join the Trade Union existing at the workplace or enjoy benefits from any Collective Bargaining Agreement(CBA), being agreements between employers and the Trade Union representing their employees only.

PR also failed to make concrete commitment to restoring the right to regular employment until retirement, and stopping the use of short-term employment contracts, which are most precarious.

PR, it is said would do the needful as and when it comes into power at the Federal level - but alas it would certainly be better if they gave clear concrete commitments on matters affecting workers and trade unions - if not, when in power, it may all be 'delayed' or just forgotten. In the past, many of the Pakatan Rakyat parties, were always there voicing out against worker rights violations - but nowadays, silence...I did not even see any statement from PR or its component parties when DRB HICOM subsidiaries terminated 18 workers just for handing a Malaysian Trade Union Congress(MTUC) memorandum to contesting candidates in GE13 to get their commitment to worker issues and concern. On the other hand, other Opposition Parties like Parti Rakyat Malaysia(PRM) and Parti Socialis Malaysia(PSM) still continues to stand with workers whose rights have been violated.

Now, we have a case in Pakatan-ruled Selangor, which allegedly saw some 20 workers on fixed-term contracts being terminated, after being given 24 hours notice. And few questions on worker rights should be asked...

1 - DOMESTIC INQUIRY - before a worker can be terminated, the rules of natural justice demand that the worker who is about to be dismissed should be accorded a Domestic Inquiry. In a domestic inquiry, the employer should present sufficient evidence to proof that an employee has breached the contract or committed a serious misconduct that warrants termination. The accussed worker, who should have the right to be represented by a lawyer, a Union rep or a fellow worker, would be allowed the right to be heard, which includes the right to challenge evidence and witnesses forwarded by the employer. The Domestic Inquiry is presided by an independent panel, who at the end of the day makes a final determination as to whether there has been a breach of contract or a serious misconduct that warrants termination, and makes their finding known to the employer who makes the final decision whether to terminate or not, or impose a lesser penalty. Was there even a show cause letter issued to these workers?

2 - TERMINATION BENEFITS - well, unlike regular employees where termination benefits are calculated based on their length of service, etc, the situation is and must be different for fixed-term contract workers, and rightly they should be paid compensation based on the number of months remaining multiplied by their monthly wages/benefit and more for the premature breach of contract by the employer. We are not hearing much about whether they were even paid termination benefits, compensation, etc.

On the face of it, the actions of PKNS is draconian and being a government body, this is even more unacceptable. Worker rights must be respected...

Being a government or government body, there may be justification to remove workers appointed by some previous government, or those that are acting against government policy - but still there must be due process - the show cause letter, domestic inquiry...and at the end of the day, termination/lay-off/retrenchment benefits paid to these workers...

We are not animals, cry axed PKNS staff

One of the former staff of PKNS Holdings whose contract was unexpectedly terminated yesterday has lashed out at the state-linked company, likening their treatment to that of animals.

"Who is responsible for us? Is this how you treat us? We are not animals," former Marketing Division head Aliff Aiman (right) cried out at a press conference today.

Aliff is one of some 20 contract workers affected by the 24-hour notice served on them by the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) subsidiary that their contracts would not be renewed.

An emotional Aliff said his former employer had acted unfairly on those brought in to increase the level of PKNS’ professionalism in the first place.

"We are humans, what’s more we are all Muslims. Even non-Muslim companies would not do this," he said at the Industrial Relations Department.

He said he, alongside the other terminated staff, had gone to meet with the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) and the ministry to study the legal options for redress they could take.

Livelihoods taken away

Meanwhile, Rina Sharif, who was, till yesterday, PKNS group human resources division head, said 19 staff received their termination notice yesterday and that a further 19 would suffer the same fate soon.

Rina said some employees some still have six months to two years left to serve out their contracts when it was ended.

"I was the HR (head) for 18 years. Where has a contract been terminated like this. This is not a 24-hour notice of termination, it was immediate.

"The jobs were the staff’s livelihood," she told Malaysiakini when approached.

Yesterday, PKNS Holdings terminated the contracts of some 20 workers, giving them a 24-hour notice.

Meanwhile, PKNS in a statement today said the contracts were terminated in a "restructuring operation" due to redundancies between the contract and permanent staff.- Malaysiakini, We are not animals, cry axed PKNS staff (5/2/2014)

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