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See sees red over closure of foreign firms, retrenchment

by Jonathan Chia, reporters@theborneopost.com. Posted on November 23, 2012, Friday

KUCHING: The unwarranted closure of factories in Sama Jaya Free Industrial Zone a nd the retrenchme nt o f nearly 1,000 workers by Sanmina- SCI Corporation (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (Sanmina) cannot be tolerated and taken lightly, said Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How.

Calling the moves as poor industrial practice, the state PKR vice-chairman was sad that Sarawakians continued to be oppressed and their rights and interests trampled by multinational conglomerates.

“The chief minister had reminded this august house that we are now in the age of the ‘new reality’, that to meet the demands of international competition, we need international standards.

By that, I take it to mean that it includes standards of labour practices that are on par with the international norms.

“Indeed, we are talking about Sarawakian workers which are made up of 315 Bidayuhs, 295 Malays , 220 Ibans , 134 Chinese, 18 Malanaus, 15 Orang Ulus and 28 others who have lost their employment without notice, many amongst them have worked for Sanmina for the last decade.

“In the most unfair practice, Sanmina paid the worker s compensation of seven days wages in-lieu of not ice and retrenchment benefits as low as RM25.79!” he highlighted at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) here yesterday.

See stated that the Malaysian Trade Unions Congress (MTUC) Sarawak branch had detected and confirmed several breaches in the retrenchment methodology undertaken by Sanmina; that the company did not comply with specified provisions of the State Labour Ordinance, Malaysian Code of Conduct for Industrial Harmony and they did not inform the Labour Department with sufficient notice.

“This is a poor and obnoxious attempt by the company to exploit the ignorance of the workers, misuse and manipulating the provision of our Labour Ordinance.

The abuse and exploitation of our labour is partly due to the anomaly in our Ordinance, and as the company had argued, they were ill-advised. But these are not credible excuses for a successful business concern to ill-treat and exploit our workers,” See said.

He was however happy with the statement by Minister of Industrial Development Datuk Amar Awang Tengah AlI Hassan that the state Labour Ordinance would be amended and strengthened to better protect the interests of our labour.

See dismissed Sanmina’s reasons that it was not doing well and there were no new orders and customers were pulling out orders for closing down the factory.

“The performance records show otherwise, in the second and third quarters of 2012, the company’s revenues were US$16,690,000 and US$18,998,000, higher than the previous two quarters from October 2011 to March 2012, which are US$14,098,000 and US$13,703,000 respectively.

“In this last quarter of 2012, the Kuching plant has already obtained some US$8.1 million worth in bookings with US$18.1 million revenue targeted for this quarter. However, new orders from existing customers have been diverted to its sister plants in WuXi in China, Singapore and the United States.

“Contrary to its excuse that the Kuching plant is losing money, this plant has recorded a profit of US$622,000 for the previous quarter, July-September 2012,” he argued.

See said it was therefore deplorable that while the company was making money from its Kuching plant, it gave only pittance in retrenchment benefits to its workers.

He suggested that a special select committee be appointed to look into the plight of the retrenched workers and the legality and impact of the closure of the Sanmina factory.

As an immediate assistance to the retrenched workers, See proposed that an emergency fund be set up by the state government.

“Such a fund is a necessary safety net for our workers in view of the projected magnitude of foreign investment into Sarawak. Equal emphasis must be placed on incentives given to attract foreign investments as well as the welfare of our workers,” he said.

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