Saturday, April 04, 2020

Unions call for mandatory testing for all workers for exempted sites (BWI-MLC)

* Why were these business even operating - Wood Industries are not a listed 'essential services' under the MCO. Apparently, they were granted exemption - by WHO? - only the DG of Health can grant such exemption during this Movement Control Order period. Was it some Minister or Ministry? Was it some State government? If it was not with a prior written prior written permission of the Director General of Health, they cannot carry on business. Those who gave invalid exemptions, including Ministers ought to be charged in court..


Media Release: Building and Wood Workers’ International Malaysian Liaison Council (BWI-MLC)*
Wednesday 1 April 2020

Unions call for mandatory testing for all workers for exempted sites

The BWI Malaysia Liaison Council (BWI-MLC)* is calling for mandatory coronavirus testing for workers on all worksites where operations are continuing amidst the pandemic.

The BWI-MLC has learnt that in the Peninsula Malaysia timber industry alone there are 156 sawmills that have been exempted from the Movement Control Order (MCO), and a further 41 sawmills in Sarawak.

“We’re in close communication with workers at many mills and they’re very scared for their safety, but if they don’t work they will have no income”, said BWI-MLC spokesperson Azlan bin Yaacob.

“Right now they’re feeling like it’s either covid or starvation that will get them.”

“Our understanding is that these exemptions were granted to ensure that machinery was not damaged by being shut down, which should only require a handful of staff”, continued Yaacob. “However we’re receiving reports that many factories almost the entire number of migrant workers are still working. Many workers have not had additional safety materials provided, and social distancing is difficult in this work environment.”

Yaacob said that the capacity for covid to spread amongst workers’ accommodation was a matter of huge concern.

“We want to immediately see mandatory testing for all workers working on sites exempted from the MCO on a regular basis to ensure that workers are safe, and the industry doesn’t become a vector for disease.”

“Workers must also be able to refuse the right to do work they believe dangerous, and it’s imperative that financial assistance is available for those unable or uncomfortable to work on any given day”.

- Ends

For further information contact:

Azlan Bin Yaacob on (+60) 19 370 4886
BWI-MLC spokesperson and General Secretary of the Timber Employees Union of Peninsula Malaysia
The Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) is the global union for workers in the building and construction, wood and forestry, building materials and allied sectors, which represents 12 million workers in 352 unions across 140 countries. In Malaysia the BWI has nine trade union affiliates, known collectively as the BWI Malaysian Liaison Council (BWI-MLC).

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