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Kamiri Estate workers
lodge 19 Police Reports

Retrenched 56 rubber tappers who had worked for 15 to 35 years in Kamiri Estate, Sg Siput (U) were retrenched in December 1999 as Guthrie 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 8,500 for a worker who has worked 25 years. They were also asked to vacate their estate quarters.

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 two 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 septic tanks.

Workers’ Protest

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 Manager’s 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

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