Letter to Minister of Labour and manpower to issue a directive to all estate management to give first priority of employment and re-employment to retrenched estate workers.
I have today written a letter to the Minister of Labour, Tan Sri V. Manickavasagam, urging him to issue a directive to all estate management in the country to give priority in employment and re-employment opportunities to retrenched estate workers in the country.
My letter reads:
“Tan Sri V. Manickavasagam, 26.4.1972
Minister of Labour and Manpower,
Ministry of Labour and Manpower.
The problem of estate retrenchment is a very grave problem in Malaysia which has been neglected by the government for the last decade.
In the last ten years, about 100,000 workers were retrenched from the rubber estates, constituting nearly 30 per cent of the total rubber estate work force. When we take their dependants into account, about 500,000 people are involved.
Year by year, the annual displacement of rubber estate workers become more and more acute.
The cause of this employment decline in the rubber estate is caused by the reduction in rubber estate acreage through fragmentation and by efforts of estates to introduce cost savings in production – in particular, because of the low price of rubber which has consistently fallen below the 40 cents a pound for several months.
Thus, from 1966 to 1970, during the First Malaysia Plan, although estate rubber output increased by nearly 4% per year, total acreage tapped declined from 1.32million acres to 1.28 million acres. More important, the number of workers per hundred acres tapped also dropped from 21.7 to 18.1.
In fact, it will be no exaggeration to say that under the Second Malaya Plan, 1960 – 1965 and the First Malaysia Plan, 1966 – 1970, the lot of the estate labourers went from bad to worse.
The DAP is gravely concerned that the government for the last ten years had ignored the plight of the retrenched estate labourers.
What is all the more shocking is that instead of helping the retrenched estate workers to find alternative employment and means of livelihood, your Ministry of Labour has acted to their dire detriment in making it more impossible for the retrenched estate workers to find re-employment in the estate.
Estate managements have told their retrenched employees that although every effort would be made to find alternative work for them, they may not be able to do so because of directives from the Ministry of Labour.
I have in my possession a letter which a management has given to retrenched estate workers:
“I have had to give notice of termination of your employment as the fields in which you are tapping are due for felling for replanting this year.
“Although every effort will be made to find alternative work for you, I should point out that I have recently had a letter from the Minister of Labour to the effect that they consider the work force is racially imbalanced and that this should be rectified.”
It is clear therefore that estate workers retrenched are not re-employed because of a directive from your Ministry. I am prepared to produce a copy of this letter if necessary.
This is in violation of the spirit and letter if the objectives of the Second Malaysia Plan, which clearly stated that “no one will experience any loss or feel any sense of deprivation of his rights, privileges, income, job or opportunity” in its implementation.
This assurance was given by no other than the Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak, in his foreword to the Second Malaysia Plan.
I would therefore urge you to write to all estate managements to instruct them to give retrenched estate workers first priority in employment or re-employment, so that ‘no one will experience any loss or feel any sense of deprivation of his rights, privileges, income, job or opportunity’.
(Lim Kit Siang)
Member of Parliament for