Firm ordered to pay three-month salaries to 143 sacked workers
The Industrial Court yesterday ordered Sinora Sdn Bhd to pay 143 former employees three months’ basic salaries as a settlement for their wrongful dismissal in two separate cases. The Chairman of the Court, P Iruthayaraj D Pappusamy, who gave the orders, heard that when the new management took over Sinora Sdn Bhd in August 2008, they withdrew the workers’ attendance allowance of RM80. The workers claimed that the Management also forced them to work overtime, and it was very difficult for them to obtain annual leave. The Management did not respect and recognise the Sabah Timber Industry Employees Union (STIEU), an affiliate member of Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC), they said. -They said the Management wanted to “paralyse” the Union by forming a committee at the workplace comprising section heads and the Management, all of whom were hand-picked by the Management. The workers were very unhappy and subsequently they picketed in front of their orkpiae on 14-1Septembe 2004. As a result of the picket, the Management took drastic action against the workers, terminating the employment of 23 of the 136 workers involved. The plight of the 23 workers was brought to the attention of the Ministry of Human Resources and later the Federal Minister Datuk Seri Fong Chan Oon, who referred the case to the Industrial Court in the middle of 2007. Out of the 23 dismissed workers, six agreed to accept the offer of three months’ basic salaries as settlement while the remaining 14 chose to pursue the case further. Meanwhile, when there was no news of the outcome after the case was referred to the Industrial Court, the workers felt frustrated and held another picket in front of Sinora Sdn Bhd on 15-17 February 2005. About 200 workers took part in the second picket against the Management and this time, 168 workers were dismissed or transferred to a sister company. Out of the number, 133 were sacked for involvement in the picket, while 32 of the remaining 35 workers were transferred to a sister company, Priceworth Sdn Bhd and the other three were allowed continue working in Sinora Sdn Bhd on night shift after rejecting the offer of transfer. Out of the 168 workers, 13 of them agreed to a settlement with three months’ basic salaries while 12, mostly contracted workers from Indonesia, withdrew their case as they did not hold proper documents. The remaining workers are pursuing the matter further. The first hearing started in the middle of 2007 and the current hearing will continue until 11 July. In both cases, counsel A Sivananthan AL Arumugam represented MTUC while Tetuan J Marimuttu & Partners represented the respondent.