KUALA LUMPUR: The National Union of Plantation Workers (NUPW) yesterday filed a judicial review in the High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) here to partially nullify an Industrial Court award which it claimed was not favorable to some 40,000 palm oil mill workers and harvesters.
NUPW filed the application at about 2pm at the High Court Registry via law firm Messrs Kesavan & Co.
In a supporting affidavit, NUPW secretary-general Datuk G Sankaran stated that the decision of Industrial Court chairman Ong Geok Lan, dated Nov 26, 2010, had taken into consideration irrelevant factors and failed to look into relevant facts before arriving at her decision.
Sankaran also stated that she was wrong when interpreting laws pertaining to the collective agreement whereby the award was contrary to the general scheme, policy and aim of the Industrial Relations Act 1967.
He stressed that the human resource minister had referred the matter to the Industrial Court for arbitration after the NUPW and the Malaysian Agricultural Producer’s Association (Mapa) on Dec 22, 2008 failed to agree on two collective agreements for palm oil mill employees and harvesters which expired on June 30, 2008.
Sankaran stated that the court had also failed to ‘clear the air’ on the effective date of the new collective agreements as well as the duration of the agreements as required under Section 30(7) of the Act.
Ong, in her ruling, had stated that the date of commencement of the award was Nov 1, 2010 and it shall remain in force for a continuous period of three years.
Sankaran told reporters later that the court’s ruling was generally not in favour of the estate workers, where it had failed to safeguard the interests of the workers as provided for under the law.
“The Industrial Court has failed us in ensuring better perks for the workers and our only hope now is for the Appellate Court to decide in our favour, where most of our members’ take-home pay is below RM500, much lower than in other sectors,” he said.
NUPW executive secretary A Navamukundan said there was not much change in the wage structure of the workers, where the daily wage of a mill worker only saw an increase of RM13.50 to RM15, which was much lower than the minimum RM700 monthly wage sought by the union.
“Our struggle for a monthly wage for estate workers will not stop here,” he said as some 250 mill workers and harvesters from as far as Johor and Perak turned up at the Jalan Duta Court Complex here yesterday to show their solidarity with the NUPW and their struggle for better wages. — Bernama