I have myself brought up these issues on behalf of the estate workers
in Parliament since the 70s in my 30 years in Parliament, and I hope that
the Cabinet directive to the Human Resources Ministry to resolve this long-standing
issue is not a gimmick to forestall a nationwide picket called by the National
Union of Plantation Workers (NUPW) planned for March 9 and 20 and
The minimum monthly wage system for estate workers must be settled latest by the first May Day of the new millennium in less than two months’ time and the overall package should also address the other two issues of pressing importance to the estate workers - housing as well as adequate retrenchment benefits.
The problem of the estate workers which is not an Indian problem, as out of the 180,000 estate workers in Peninsular Malaysia, 39 per cent are Indians, 38 per cent Malays and the rest contract workers.
The time has come for the government and the employers to accord proper recognition to the estate workers who have contributed immensely to the national development, particularly in the plantation sector over the decades.
At present, there are estate workers who are retrenched are only paid between RM5,000 and RM7,000 in compensation although they have worked for 20 to 30 years in the estates - which is grossly inadequate and unfair.
It is commendable that the Malaysian Agricultural Producers Association (MAPA) has agreed in principle to a basic monthly wage system for estate workers.
The government, the estate owners and the estate workers should agree to a time-frame to reach a historic agreement on the formula for a minimum monthly wage for estate workers, as well as productivity incentives, prosperity bonuses, housing and fair retrenchment compensation before the 2000 May Day.