In this Covid-19 pandemic difficult times, Windsor plantation workers are threatened with losing their homes. The Malakoff Corporation Berhad, which owns the plantation area, forcibly evicted three workers who had previously been laid off. The evictions occurred at the same time when workers are asking for negotiations with the company to implement the Estate Workers Housing Scheme that the Malaysian government had introduced in 1973.
The Windsor plantation workers have worked and lived for three generations, when the area was still planted with rubber and turned into palm oil. When workers have reached retirement age or laid-off, workers have no security of where they will spend old-age.
This problem occurred when three workers who were dismissed on the grounds of their completed work contract were forced by the company to leave their homes. On August 12, the company required the workers to vacate their homes within 7 days, The company then cut off the water and electricity supply to workers’ houses, just yesterday (08/19). This is shameful act by the company, forcefully evicting workers who have spent their labour for 3 generations.
The refusal of workers for expulsion is not without reasons. In 1973, the Malaysian government introduced the Estate Workers Housing Scheme. Through this scheme, companies are required to facilitate workers to own houses in the plantation area through a salary deduction scheme. Without this scheme, workers who are paid with meager wages will find it almost impossible to find a place to live when they reach retirement age.
Windsor plantation workers have long been trying to demand their rights to housing. On December 31, 2019, workers sent a letter to the company to discuss the housing scheme. However, the company refused to respond to workers’ requests. When companies did not renew workers’ contracts in March 2020, workers had also asked companies to negotiate about this problem. However, the company responded by issuing a letter of expulsion.
We consider that the company has deprived workers’ rights to housing security. These actions also unsympathetic with the conditions of workers in the midst of the Covid-19 difficult times. The Malakoff company, which is claimed to be the largest company in the energy sector in Malaysia, has no excuse not to comply with workers’ demands and implement the Estate Workers Housing Scheme.
We urge Malakoff Corporation Berhad to immediately:
1) Stop the force evictions and threat of cuting-off electricity and water supply to workers’ houses
2) Responding to workers’ requests to discuss housing issues
3) Implementing the Estate Workers Housing Scheme in accordance with the demands of the workers
4) Ensuring the fulfillment of workers’ rights to housing with a decent standard and a healthy environment.
Solidarity for Windsor plantation workers in Perak, Malaysia
1. Konfederasi Serikat Nasional (KSN), Indonesia
2. Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC), Hong Kong
3. Federasi Buruh Transportasi dan Pelabuhan Indonesia (FBTPI), Indonesia
4. Serikat Buruh Sawit Sejahtera (SBSS), Indonesia
5. Network Resisting Expansion of Agricultural Plantations in Mindanao (REAP Mindanao Network), Phillipines
6. Serikat Buruh Perkebunan Indonesia (SBPI), Indonesia
7. Federasi Serikat Buruh Karya Utama (FSBKU-KSN), Indonesia
8. Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), Phillipines
9. Islam Bergerak, Indonesia
10. North South Initiative (NSI), Malaysia
Transnational Palm Oil Labor Solidarity (TPOLS) is a cross-organizational collaboration network that is concerned with the issue of the sustainability of the palm oil industry. The TPOLS network consists of labor union organizations, environmental justice groups, women’s organizations, labour and human rights defender, migrant worker groups, and scholars.