I promised to blog about this for the sake of the workers. I happened to be there at the right time and the right place.

Representatives of workers from Nikko based in Prai sought the help of Anwar Ibrahim, the Permatang Pauh candidate, today, at one of Keadilan’s operations centre in Yayasan Aman, Penanti.

They were accompanied by Malaysian Trade Union Council (Penang branch) representative V. Vijaya.

The workers complaint that about 1,200 workers were given a 24 hours notice to pack up and leave the company on June 30.

Up till today, about 400 of them have not received their compensation money, which totals to about RM7.3 million.

Most of the workers were old timers, who had served the company for 15 years or so. As they were mostly between the ages of 35-40 years, they found it an uphill task to find for new jobs.

Many were middle-aged women and single mothers who lamented that they needed the money soon as they were running out of patience.

“Everything has gone up in price and hari raya is approaching,” they cried.

Anwar Ibrahim, who was present at the meeting said that he would look into the plight of the workers. He added that this situation cannot be condoned as it would set a precedent for other companies to follow suit.

He was accompanied by Perak chief minister, PAS’ Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, who came to throw  his support behind Anwar’s candidacy.

Mohammad Nizar was asked to attend the meeting as many of the workers hail from Perak. He assured them that there were schemes available to help them tie through this difficult times.

He also condemn the action of the company which retrenched the workers at short notice but added that the reason why the former ended up with a situation like this was due to Barisan Nasional’s government recent increase of fuel prices and other essential goods.

He echoed Anwar’s concerns that if action were not taken against wrongful dismissals, it would become a habit with companies out to cheat workers.

I felt the workers were indeed very wise to take opportunity of the current campaign period and by-election to voice out their grievances.

Hope they would indeed be paid their rightfulcompensation soon, hopefully before Merdeka or Ramadhan which would most probably begin on September 1.

28 responses »

  1. Maverick says:

    Fairdinkum ,
    a Man ( Anwar Ibrahim ) for all seasons and all races, step on it and stamp your feets for the reality is about to take off. No one is questioning Article 153 its umno+bn ploy to keep themselves in power at the expense of the poor unsuspecting souls.

  2. Phua Kai Lit says:

    This is why we need social democracy and pro-labour political parties
    in Malaysia. Strong social democratic and labour parties = more protection of the welfare of the working people.
    Check the history of countries like New Zealand and Sweden.

  3. wira says:

    In all fairness, the decision to pull out by Nikko was taken long before the recent fuel price increases. One doesn’t take a decision to close a factory operation at such short notice.

    It has all to do with our competitiveness in this world, especially vis-a-vis countries like China, Thailand and Vietnam.

    It is unfortunate that Nikko has to close because of the strong competition posed by manufacturers in China to their remote control toys which sell for a fraction of those made by Nikko in Malaysia albeit with lower quality.

    Eventhough Nikko makes higher quality toys, it is the sufficient quality in those Chinese toys that find mass market all over the world.
    Moreover, toys are toys and are meant to be discarded/broken after a period of use or after the novelty wears off.

    It will be difficult for Malaysia to beat China in the mass manufacturing game, especially in the labour intensive industry.
    Are Malaysians willing to work 26 days per month on 12 hour shift and be paid Chinese wages which is 1/2 that of Malaysia ?
    Can our labour laws be changed in line with those practised in China whereby every worker is on a 2~3 year contract and may be terminated after the end of the contract so that the employer can have it’s labour cost reset every 3 years ?

    If we can’t do this,then don’t blame the factories for closing down or relocating to China.

    The original 4 tigers of Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Korea have each moved up the manufacturing, service and technological ladder and are naturally eliminating low value added and labour intensive industries in their economy.

    Ask ourselves this… what has our government done to move this country up the manufacturing/technology ladder ?
    Instead, the government builds mammoth white elephants which add little value to the country.

    So please don’t blame the investors for pulling out.
    They are here to make money.
    If they cannot make money, they will move out and perhaps move to China or to any place where there is money to make.

  4. sunwayopal says:

    I think nobody is blaming the company or investor for pulling out. Its the matter of paying what is legally due to the workers if a company has to pull out.

    You know, tie up loose ends nicely lah.

    Having said that though, I have to say termination of an employee is ridiculous in Malaysia, IR courts will generally award to an employee no matter what the reason for termination, even though he has stolen rm 10 million from the company or punched his superior in the face!!

  5. politicanalyst says:

    This is not strange. Everybody is trying to grab the opportunity they can to get what they want and need. So if the PKR could give what they want, they will go to them. Its that simple. It does not mean the government is not giving what they want, but they want to grab the best chances they might catch from either side.

  6. White Light says:

    I have met DSAi way back in 1988. He is a real gentleman.

  7. veryupset says:

    Very upset that these workers are treated like that. Can’t blame the company if they are not making money. Setting up a business is to make money.

    I want to know, how come they didn’t approach BN & UMNO? They have billions in their pocket to spend unnecessary! Just see to their plight and make the necessary arragements due to them.

    What ever little money they earned they lived on..!

    No matter how much we write or condemn BN goons, they just don’t care lah !
    Next they will say “these workers didn’t approach us ! So how can we help them…?”

    Sodomy case…..
    Yup ! They put their butt & mouth in it…!

  8. sandwich says:

    Anwar sure is clever to take this opportunity when the by-election is just around the corner.This is quite a few months old and only till now Anwar offered his help to them.why not before this?.and where is Penang state government by the way when this issue broke out?.

    i agree with what politicanalyst said.this is another chance for PKR to grab upon.no big deal.

  9. ka na sai says:

    Don’t miss the oportunity,Go to BN now they have alot of money to give away.
    Even if they knew PKR has offered to help,does not matter .BAGI AMBIL,UNDI TAHU LAH PKR !!!siapa lagi ?

  10. Fortified City says:

    How much does it cost to start a business in Malaysia. May be they had to bribe through their noses and felt that it is okay to drop the workers just like that.

    May be they knew they will not get into trouble with the authorities because they have bribed big amounts already. Since their business was less profitable in Malaysia, so they moved, leaving it to the ‘culprits’ to settle their own people’s problems.

    Maybe the workers came to DSAI and DSNJ,for them to investigate this corruption case and see that financial justice is done to them by the authorities.

    I predict we are going to witness many cases such as these. The economy is REAL bad.

  11. wira says:

    Nikko is a Japanese MNC.
    No MNC needs to pay any bribe to set up company in Malaysia.

    In fact they used to have a direct line to Rafidah Aziz when things were not moving.

    UMNO people are corrupt but not that stupidly corrupt.

  12. Fortified City says:

    “In fact they used to have a direct line to Rafidah Aziz when things were not moving.

    UMNO people are corrupt but not that stupidly corrupt.”Qoute

    Hmmm!!!!…. some food for thought. Thanks for your kind info.

  13. Menyalak-er says:

    In a way, ‘wira’ you are right in saying that the top people like ex-AP queen would help resolve MNC’s problems – but by ‘barking’ orders to her minions.
    The picture gets more blurry down line, say with getting water, electricity, various permits – you know the usual niggly stuff.
    As sunwayopal says, its much better to ‘tie up the loose ends’.
    The problem is how – when the company’s resources have dried up from settling this niggly stuff?
    These poor ‘retrenched’ workers don’t even have a safety net to break their fall – hence where is the ‘penyayang’ slogan that was bandied around?
    This is one of the areas that PR should look into as soon as they have stabilized – rethink the provisions covering rehab. of laid off workers.
    The present goons sure aren’t going to do anything…
    The economy is not only bad, its the pits! Inflation at 7.2%? Yeah – only when you ‘shift’ the ‘basket’ of essential items. Any expert want to comment on that?

  14. Fortified City says:

    “This is one of the areas that PR should look into as soon as they have stabilized – rethink the provisions covering rehab. of laid off workers”.Qoute

    This is true menyalak-er. somebody has to look into this growing problem

    Thanks.

  15. ANg Kong says:

    I think many have missed the point,

    it’s not abt nikkon pulling out or Malaysia not amongst the ‘Asean Tigers’.

    It is the way the workers have been treated. If the 24 notice is true, then the constitution has failed to protect the workers’ rights. On the other side of the coin, this is why many foreign companies were attracted to invest in this country in the first place. They know they can get away lightly. Worker reformation is practically ‘0’ over the decades.

    Unless Malaysian economy decides to look for new revenue, it will perish! Mass labour in Malaysia no longer is attractive and sustainable compared to places like China, Vietnam and alike. The cycle goes round and round……

  16. Menyalak-er says:

    True, ANg Kong, that 24 hr. notice is absolutely no-no. Why wasn’t a law put in place? It is in the law! But with proper compensation which was not given by the MNC involved. And they have gone MIA… they’re irresponsible – thus, the problem is – what can we do now? Sure sue them til ‘fulat’ in the Industrial Court! But, meanwhile how do these poor ex-workers survive? That is exactly the point…
    All businesses are the same, its for profit – they cut and run when when there are losses accrued to an intolerable level.
    Manufacturing remains our key industry, what other sources of income besides agriculture, etc.? Service industries are the same. Our petroleum industries are stagnating. If we want to survive in this globalized world, we have to remain competitive, and that is where our social safety nets must be in place – there are many ways to skin a cat, for instance it would be good to look at the Ozzie example for workers compensation and rehab laws.

  17. prinzbum says:

    wira you are correct to say labour intensive industries are out…but why are we still stuck with so many foreign workers ???? Shouldn’t we be reducing our dependency on foreign workers >

  18. wira says:

    Prinzbum,

    If we lack a program to transform our industries from labour intensive to technology and service intensive industry, ie. a higher value added industry, merely discouraging and making things difficult for factories/industries which still find the margin to operate will be damaging to the economy.

    Every 100 operators in the factory will feed the mouths of another 20~30 supporting staff. ie. engineers, technicians, officers and managers who are invariably Malaysians.
    Moreover, the downstream economic activities generated by the spending power of these employees are also formidable.

    Basically the industry needs people who can generate profit.
    With an economy which is getting less competitive because many other countries can do the mundane jobs better, future graduates from our universities will find good jobs harder to come by as more graduates enter the job market.

    Of course, the fact that many public universities are offering courses that add little value to the country adds to the gravity of this problem.
    Moreover, technology intensive industries need qualitative talent which is also another huge headache with present government policies.

    Yes, we ought to reduce our dependency on foreign workers.
    However, this can and should be done together with a program to migrate to higher value added industries.
    The Singaporean/HongKong/Korean and Taiwanese economies have done this. I doubt we can, not with the present government anyway. :p

  19. wira says:

    Ang Kong,

    Malaysia has one of the best laws in the developing world for workers.
    It’s often joked in the Chinese circle that we are more socialist than the communists in China.

    I think perhaps we should read what is reported in the media with a pinch of salt.
    Out of 1200 employees, why are there only 400 who claimed that they have yet to receive their severance compensation ?
    What happen to the other 800?
    I suspect there must be something more to it than what we see on the surface.

  20. xcarpathia says:

    Well
    One of my relatives was those affected by the NIKKO pullout. Until now he still cant get employment due to his age and also penang is not exactly offering a lot of employment from Intel.Dell, etc…. i wonder how many other companies will do the same as NIKKO as MSIA cant compete with countries like china/india in terms of manufactuing pay!

  21. Menyalak-er says:

    I think the problem may be much deeper, in regards to the MNC’s reluctance to invest or their willingness to cut and run. But these are questions for another day.
    Many MNC’s have also got burnt in China & India, but they are of a different league altogether; but these MNC’s remained, but are wiser.
    I’m sure you have heard that the operating costs in China is actually not good – the employers have to fork out both their accomodation and food, which we don’t do here.
    In both these countries, it is the lure of a huge market (economies of scale) and therefore strategic for the MNC’s to locate there.
    Although we do have labor laws that are quite comprehensive, they are slowly becoming irrelevant as we globalize. Our trade unions have now become a shadow of their former selves, and more often than not are shackeled by the goons.
    As we prepare ourselves for the challenges ahead, i appeal to the incoming politicos to keep this very basic right of workers – compensation, retraining, transparency and rehab. close to their hearts.
    Whatever i say here will be of no use to the 400 ex-workers of Nikko that are stymied, including xcarparthia’s relative; and i would not want to cast asperations as to whether these things that are an unfortunately common occurence as politically motivated. What we really need is change…

  22. hutchrun says:

    Koh Tsu Koon, on the very same day [and Lulu’s wondering if it was under the same breath or not] professes that Gerakan is not a “yes man party” claims to have received a call from Anwar [the same Anwar who is running for Pematang Pauh this very moment] causing him to not to act against a company that had defaulted in its payment to the state government.

    As a result, the state government under Koh had suffered a loss of RM9 million because Business Focus Sdn Bhd (BFSB) had defaulted in its payment after buying over Penang Shipbuilding Corporation Sdn Bhd (PSC).

    If what he is confessing is the truth, then he’s a mega very yes-man.
    If he was already so yes-man 10 years ago, can y0u imagine the magnitude of damage caused by his yes-man-ness these past 5 years whenever he receives a call from the son-in-law who claims that the Malays were being ditindas-ed in Penang under his chief ministership.
    boy-o-boy…Koh in trying to drag Anwar’s name into the mud just jumped into the mud pond.

    http://whatalulu.blogspot.com/2008/08/lulu-wonders-what-was-time-lapse.html

  23. wits0 says:

    KTK never had a spine. Felt that already about him from school time recollection. What he had later was a great string of impressive but irrelvant academic qualifications which became quite lost as a spineless politician inflicting himself in Penang for some 18 years. Gerakan and MCA love to promote academically highly qualified people that meant little in the end. Penang people bought it and was stuck with him for such an absurdly extended period.

    Who of his generation wouldn’t have made it far given the unstressed comfortable,wealthy and well counseled background that he came from. It just take, on anyone’s part, a willing spirit to study. He also had all the school tuition he ever needed.

    LGE is a far better man.

  24. wira says:

    Yes, not every factory in China can operate cheaper than in Malaysia.
    It has a lot to do with the industry and the management.
    However, to our detriment, most of them are certainly cheaper and the huge internal market definitely helps.

    You will never believe how ridiculously low their cost can be especially so if the company is local (or Taiwanese/Hongkongese) even after you throw in those so called Chinese workers’ benefits like housing subsidies.
    They don’t earn to be the manufacturing power house of the world if their cost and infrastructure are not up to par.

    Back home, labour intensive industries are detrimental to workers who suffer lay off at the later stage of their lives.
    Can they be effectively retrained and be equally productive as the young ones ?

    Workers in MNCs which are more technology based are generally better protected because of the inherent value of knowledge in producing the products, not necessary of those workers, but of their technical/engineering/management staff.
    Automation also reduces the dependency of the need of more physical effort which is a handicap for the older employees.

  25. ANg Kong says:

    the ball has begun to roll, but it seems a lot more ppl are interested in politic rather than workers’ welfare.

    ‘best law in the developing countries’…., 24 hr notice to pack up, even with compensation n u call this legal? we may live in wooden rumah atap but don we all want to live in a modernised air con bricked house? why r we comparing with other developing countries. Also, I don see the worker unions have any sort of real meaningful power in their hands. why?

  26. Menyalak-er says:

    Well, we have to compare ourselves with the better, if not perfect systems that are in place elsewhere. If we don’t we will definitely go down the drain.
    We regress to the stage where workers become slaves.
    That is what idealism is all about. But when reality strikes, the question of ‘real meningful power’ is absolutely right.
    It is unfortunately the feudalistic thinking of our powers that be, it is also the cowardice of our politicians and their lack of verve/spine and their failure to keep up with modern trends of management/industry/technology.
    The labor intensive manufacturing that is now transferred to China/Vietnam/Indon etc. should not be our aim right now and ‘wira’ is right that we’ve to go up-scale to more value added products.
    But then again we have the goons to thank for the disreputable ‘racial’ educational/tecnical diploma factories, which can’t teach the difference between a screw and nut!

  27. Muming says:

    Secondly, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Bin Azlan, IC No: 850706-01-5687, of No. 29, Jalan BU 7/6, Selangor, swore on the Quran at 6.00pm on 15 August in the Federal Territory Mosque in front of Ramlang Bin Porigi, UMNO Member No. 03405853 of Cawangan Seri Macang, Bahagian Bukit Mertajam, Parlimen Permatang Pauh.

    Can you now see the comedy of the whole thing? Ramlang Porigi, the so-called ‘Imam’ who conducted Saiful’s swearing on the Quran, other than possessing a name that sounds like an illegal Indonesian immigrant who has just been given a ‘blue’ IC, is an UMNO member from Permatang Pauh. Any wonder why Anwar ‘tak layan’ this whole matter? It was all a circus show for the benefit of the Permatang Pauh voters.

  28. bellydancer says:

    PKR? UMMO? or Barisan? Do u guys have all the evidences to say utter all the comments? Corrupt or nor corrupt, do we have the evidences? Don’t start finger pointing la….. any party that leads the country will try their very best, and we the rakyat should give them the opportunity to do just that, kalau x suka, next election let ur finger to the talking la….habis cerita……

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