Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Ministry To Investigate Companies Which Sacked 20 Tsunami Victims

Excerpt from Bernama

SABAK BERNAM, Jan 18 (Bernama) -- The Human Resources Ministry will investigate five companies alleged to have sacked 20 workers who were affected by the tsunami disaster, its Deputy Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Bakar said Tuesday.

He said the ministry received reports from the 20 workers who had their employment terminated recently for being absent from work for a prolonged period.

"We view the matter seriously and will conduct comprehensive investigations. Their actions can only be described as inhumane," he told reporters after presenting a contribution of RM1,500 to Norazmie Rafie, 34, the widow of Arbain Mat Piah, the only Selangor casualty in the Dec 26 tsunami disaster, here Tuesday.

Abdul Rahman said the companies involved could be charged under the Labour Act 1955 and he urged other people who were treated in a similar manner by their employers to report to the ministry.

Abdul Rahman also urged all companies to take a lesson from the disaster and ensure their workers contributed to the Social Security Organisation (Socso) so that they would be protected in the event of death or injury.

"Our investigations show about 20 per cent of companies have yet to contribute to Socso. We give them three months to do so before we go after them," he said.

Employers who failed to contribute can be fined RM10,000 or jailed two years or both, he said.

Abdul Rahman said Socso was still waiting for an official report from the Foreign Ministry on the actual number of Malaysian tsunami deaths overseas for appropriate compensation to be paid if the victims were contributors for at least 24 months.

Abdul Rahman added that Socso would make monthly payments of RM275 to Arbain's family for life from this month and would also help in his children's education.

He also asked Socso to forward an application for aid on the family's behalf to the National Disaster Management and Relief Fund Chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Arbain, a part-time inshore fisherman, was swept away by massive waves while fishing at Pantai Sungai Burong. He leaves behind a wife and three children, Mohd Zulfikri, 11, Norashikin, eight, and Nornabila, three.


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