KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress Sabah Division is alarmed by the recent announcement by Sabah Forest Industries (SFI) to lay off 1,390 employees.
Its secretary Catherine Jikunan yesterday said MTUC Sabah was informed by its affiliate union, The Sabah Timber Industry Employees’ Union (Stieu) in Sipitang that 1,350 employees would be laid off by SFI.
She said another batch of workers who were still under probation would have their services terminated; thus the figure mentioned earlier would be higher than 1,390.
“MTUC Sabah demands that the state government urgently intervenes and solves the problems faced by the SFI workers.
“Besides that, the state government has a share in SFI and the chairman for SFI is the State Secretary Sabah. Thus, it’s only logical for the government of Sabah to intervene in this problem.
“The state government should not just keep quiet and do nothing. The state government has an obligation towards SFI workers, towards the workers’ families and the Sipitang community at large. The state government now cannot pretend that SFI is not its responsibilities,” she stressed.
Catherine said the president of Stieu Martin Andong confirmed that the affected workers were all Sabahans who had been working with SFI for a long time.
She said MTUC Sabah was questioning the way the management of SFI was handling the workers’ issues.
“Workers are complaining that they were only informed on the 28th November, 2017 through an internal memo and were briefed on the following day by the management. Everyone was shocked.
“The Stieu president said there was no engagement or discussion with the union prior to the announcement. Many issues affecting the workers were not discussed; many questions not answered.
“We demand that SFI be transparent, engage and discuss this matter with the union who is representing the SFI workers.
“The workers’ predicament must be addressed. If the company is laying off 1,390, can you imagine how many people are being affected?
“Their families, wives, husbands, children all are dependent on them. SFI should be more compassionate and be more humane when handling these workers,” she said.