Over 1,000 SFI mill workers show up at work, plead to be paid salary arrears

KOTA KINABALU: Over a thousand factory workers in Sipitang are pleading for their salaries to be paid after a three-month delay although they have been working as usual.

Project assistant for Sabah Forest Industries Sdn Bhd (SFI) Engrit Liaw said 1,182 employees, including 38 migrant workers, were living off whatever savings they had as well as the kindness of relatives.

"We were last paid in May, but that was arrears for February and March," she said on Monday (July 5).

Liaw, who is also Sabah Timber Employees Union secretary-general, said many had resorted to putting up white flags to seek food and assistance.

"We are still asked to go to the office to carry out our duties according to instructions, but we are not getting paid," she said.

She added that they were promised payment and told everything would return to normal once the company's management takeover and other issues were settled.

Liaw also said many workers did not quit when financial problems started as they held on to the promise they would be paid.

"Besides, where else can they find factory jobs now with the pandemic still raging and many economic sectors barely surviving?" she asked.

She said many companies were downsizing and workers did not dare take a bigger risk by quitting their jobs.

"We are all hanging by a thread. Please, Sabah government, help us," Liaw added.

SFI is currently under receivership and had its logging contract with the state government terminated in May.

It also has an ongoing court case on receivership and other matters.

"We don't want to know about all this receivership and court cases – but we want our salaries now," Liaw said.

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