MALAYSIA LOGGERS IN SOLOMONS CLAIM ILL-TREATMENT

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Workers for foreign-owned company want to go home

By Jeremy Inifiri

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 26, 2012) – Twenty three Malaysians employed by a Malaysian logging company want to return home, due to ill treatment.

The men are said to be employed by New World Limited.

The men crowded the Ministry of Commerce, Industries, Labor and Immigration, handing over their complaints.

They wanted to be sent home, after accusing the company of ill treatment.

Spokesperson for the group, Benjamin Yong Teck Kung yesterday told The Solomon Star all twenty three of them have had enough of being treated like animals by their employers and also claiming that the company had deceived them when luring them from Malaysia to come and work at its Suavanao camp in Isabel province.

"We wish to bring to the attention of the responsible authorities the ill treatment given to us by our current employers, New World Ltd.

"Some of us have been here for the past two to three years, some even more-all of us share the same problem of not being treated properly by the company which contradicts the contracts we signed back home in agreeing to work for them.

"They totally deceived us and treated us like animals, even worse," Mr Kung said.

The complaint submitted to the Ministry yesterday stated their reasons for claims of ill treatment by the company and them wanting to be sent home.

Their ill-treatment claims include;

"Everything listed in this complaint is totally opposite from the agreement we signed before coming to work here.

"Just imagine what kind of company denies our rights of communication with our families back home and also deny us from other benefits we rightfully deserve.

"We know our employee rights, we will no longer tolerate being treated as animals by this company," Mr Kung said.

He also said that they have also submitted a copy of their original contracts to authorities from the ministry.

Permanent Secretary for Commerce, Industries, Labor and Immigration, Hence Vaekesa yesterday confirmed that his office has received copies of the Malaysians contracts and complaints however adding that he is yet to be briefed on the outcome of a meeting held between the men and immigration officers’ yesterday afternoon.

"I understand that a meeting was held between the men and officers from the ministry however they haven’t yet briefed me nor the director of immigration of its outcome.

"It is when we have received the report from our officers then we will know what action will be taken," he said.

Mr Vaekesa said that investigations into the matter is now underway, adding that now they have received complaints from the employees, they will be seeking the other side of the story from the company itself.

He added that the immigration office will also be looking at how the men entered the country, if they are legal or illegal immigrants employed by the company.

"We will look at both sides of the story and then look into the coming in of these men-if they entered the Solomon Islands legally or illegally.

"Right now we only have information from these men and not the company, therefore the office will pursue the company’s side.

"Then and only then can we establish the course of action," Mr Vaekesa said.

Attempts to talk to officials from the New World Limited were unsuccessful yesterday.

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