Indonesian workers in Paitan claim wrongful dismissal
Seventy- two Indonesian workers in an oil palm estate in Paitan are claiming they were ‘sacked’ by their employers without any valid reasons on June 4 this year. “Initially, we only asked for a pay hike of RM2 per person. Instead, our employer terminated our employment with immediate effect on the grounds that we did not turn up for work,” said their spokesperson, Jeffry Johanes, yesterday. He said their employer also accused them of being indisciplined for requesting for a pay raise. “The accusations against us were baseless. In fact, we were not fully paid our wages since we started working in the estate,” Jeffry contended. He said they came to work in the estate about two years ago and brought along their respective families. One of the workers who identified himself as Bungadiah claimed they were not provided with decent living quarters in the estate and were forced to obtain water from a drain for their daily use. He also claimed their employer forced them to leave the estate a day after their sacking. Meanwhile, Indonesian Acting Consul-General for Sabah, Rudhito Widagdo yesterday said the employer should be held responsible for the plight of workers. He urged the relevant authorities to investigate the matter and take appropriate action if the company is found to have flouted any labour regulations. Commenting on the impending operation against illegal immigrants in Sabah, Rudhito said he will make representation to the Indonesian Government to temporarily stop sending workers from the country to the State. He reckoned the Malaysian Government should set up an office at Nunukan to ensure smooth and orderly repatriation of illegal immigrants from Indonesia from Sabah. Currently, some 208,752 Indonesians are legally working in Sabah but the actual number of workers from the country in the State is believed to be much higher. There is no data on the number of Indonesians being hired illegally here.