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Jan 19, 2009

Malaysia Factory workers wary about extended leave

Factory employees who have been asked to take extended leave for Chinese New Year due to the slowdown in operations are worried that they will end up being retrenched.

They are also angry that foreign workers are apparently not affected by the extended unpaid leave policy.

Poly Glass Fibre Manufacturing Sdn Bhd employees said their company had shut down operations for eight days between Dec 27 and Jan 4.

The company was among those that implemented the extended leave arrangement, which would involve a total of 45,000 workers.

The firm’s workers union committee member Johari Said said that on Jan 13, the management asked the union to advise its workers to go on leave from this Friday till Feb 9.

“The company also said that it would implement a 15% salary cut and workers would have to clear a minimum of two days’ annual leave per month. But only local workers are affected by this ruling,” he told reporters at a gathering outside the factory at the Prai industrial area yesterday.

Johari said the 25-year-old factory had 60 local and 70 foreign workers, many of whom had worked there for 15 years and drawing monthly salaries of between RM1,000 and RM1,500.

The company, in a statement to the media, said the longer shutdown was inevitable because the economic slowdown had caused it to record a lower sales volume.

“We may implement other cost-reduction moves if the economic environment continues to deteriorate,” it said.

It said it was disappointed with the union’s request for two months’ bonus instead of the usual one-and-a-half months, especially with the present economic situation.

Non-Metallic Mineral Products Manufacturing Employees Union executive secretary Abdullah Abu Bakar said the company’s foreign workers should be repatriated if it had plans to scale down operations.

Deputy Chief Minister Dr P. Rama­samy said the company should settle the matter with the union amicably.

“What is more important is that the workers still have their jobs. We will closely monitor the situation and help it find ways to overcome any related problems,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Negri Sembilan government will revoke the operating licences of companies which sacked their local workers and hired foreigners to replace them.

“We are not going to tolerate this. You cannot treat locals as you like. I would like to remind employers that they cannot expect to reduce their operating costs by laying off the locals,” Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan told reporters at a ceremony to thank retirees from the state Public Works Department in Seremban.

He was commenting on a move by a factory at the Senawang Industrial Zone to lay off some 700 employees.

Mohamad said he would refer the employer who had flouted the employment laws to the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority.

“We will then assist the affected workers to get employment elsewhere. We will get them registered with the Manpower Department so that they could secure suitable jobs.”

Source : TheStar
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