Saturday, June 13, 2015

MALAYSIA:::Sabah timber workers to find out next week if they can form union

The workers of Sabah Forest Industries (SFI) will find out next Friday if their 24-year battle be part of a union will come to fruition.
The Kota Kinabalu High Court is due to decide then whether to grant the paper and pulp company leave for its application for a judicial review on June 19.
SFI had filed a judicial review on May 14 seeking to quash a ministerial order on the eligibility of its employees to vote in a secret ballot election on whether they wanted to be represented by the Sabah Timber Industry Employees Union (STIEU).

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) said STIEU is working closely with them to face the legal challenge brought by the Sipitang-based firm.
"We're pushed to shove because of the entrenched anti-union stance of the company. We have tried mediation but SFI management has ultimately retaliated with yet another judicial review," said Sabah MTUC secretary Catherine Jikunan.
"MTUC is giving STIEU full support in this battle as SFI has disregarded the workers' wish to be affiliated with STIEU for too long."
SFI workers had filed thrice for their union to be recognised; in 2003 under the now defunct Sabah Forest Industries Employees Union; in 2010, and on March 17 last year under STIEU.
The SFI management had successfully filed for judicial review pertaining to the matter twice.
"We had been hopeful that SFI would proceed with the secret ballot election as ordered by the human resources ministry after STIEU's latest claim for recognition.
"Instead, this judicial review – SFI's third – was the response. A judicial review is a costly and intimidating process for the workers, but it is SFI comfort zone as it has all the resources for it," she said.
Meanwhile, STIEU, as an affiliate of the Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) supported a complaint filed by BWI with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) against SFI's parent company BILT Graphic Paper Products for possible breach of association in relation to SFI's anti-union practices.
The FSC is one of the global certification systems that set standards under which forests and companies are certified. The standards include compliance with International Labour Organisation (ILO) core conventions 87 and 98 on freedom of association and collective bargaining, respectively.
The complaint against BILT is on non-compliance as workers in its India subsidiaries are allowed to form unions, but not those in its Malaysia subsidiary. As a result of the BWI complaint, the FSC is reaching out to SFI for mediation.
STIEU general-secretary Engrit Liaw said the mediation effort should start and conclude on or before the upcoming judicial review hearing.
"And the judicial review leave application must be withdrawn," added Liaw, who has been working in the company since 1991.
She revealed that BWI had also submitted a similar complaint to the International Finance Corporation (IFC) regarding the matter as the IFC gives financial support to SFI.
However, Liaw added, despite an IFC mission to the company on April 29, the management has not taken any steps to comply with it and is proceeding with the judicial review next week. – June 12, 2015.

Allow the conduct of secret ballot without further delay and respect its results by refraining from filing Judicial Review.

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