Kamiri Estate workers lodge 19 Police Reports protesting Guthrie
Managerís irresponsible behaviour.
Retrenched 56 rubber tappers who had worked for 15 to 35 years in Kamiri
Estate, Sg Siput (U) were retrenched in December 1999 as Guthire had decided
to replant with Oil Palm. These workers were offered the meagre retrenchment
benefits as specified in the 1955 Employment Act - 20 days wages per year of
work. This works out to about RM 8500 for a worker who has worked 25 years.
They were also asked to vacate their estatequarters.
The retrenched workers have written numerous letters to Guthrie asking
for better terms of compensation including alternative housing. However
Guthrie has steadfastly refused to meet its former workers to discuss
their problems.Unhygienic conditions.
Six weeks ago the Guthrie manager for Kamiri Estate gave orders that the
drains in the vicinity of the houses of the retrenched workers should
not be cleaned; nor the grass around their houses cut; or rubbish
collected; and that their septic tanks allowed to remain in disrepair.
This has led to fertile breeding grounds for both flies and mosquitos.
Snakes also have been sighted around the living quarters.
The workers have protested this underhand tactic through letters to the
Kamiri Management, Guthrie Head Office, the Labour Department of Kuala
Kangsar, as well as to the State Health Department. However despite
visits of the latter 2 agencies, the Guthrie Manager remains
recalcitrant, and the workers and their families are exposed to the
danger of snake bites, dengue and dysentry as well as to the foul odour
of the stagnant drains, uncollected rubbish and overflowing septictanks.
The Kamiri Estate workers are very frustrated and disappointed that
despite being empowered by very explicit provisions in the Minimum
Standards of Housing Act, the Labour and Health Departments are
unwilling to use their powers to compel Guthrie to act responsibly. Over
the past 3 weeks the workers have lodged 19 police reports against the
management of Kamiri Estate for using these pressure tactics in an
attempt to evict them from their quarters. Last week the ex-workers of
Kamiri Estate planted around 30 placards protesting the Managerís
irresponsible behaviour, at the sides of both entrances to the estate.
Guthrie highly irresponsible!
One would expect Guthrie, the largest plantation company in Malaysia, to
treat its former workers (who have brought in millions of dollars of
profits over the past 20 years) with a little more decency. Incidently
this highlights quite vividly the extent to which large corporations are
prepared to go for the extra dollar (and the reason why we need stronger
laws and more efficient enforcement to keep these corporations in line!)
However if Guthrie believes that they can bully their ex-workers and
force them to vacate their quarters they are in for a big surprise.
WORKERS UNITED CAN NEVER BE DEFEATED!!.
Released by PSM Sg. Siput Branch