Sabah Timber Employees Union demand justice over death of Yiki Janing

The Malaysian forestry company Sabah Forest Industries (SFI) faces charges for the death of its employee Yiki Janing, age 51. On the 8th December the company was charged with committing offences under the Occupational Safety and Health and also the Factories and Machinery Acts.

“From the very start, we were of the strong opinion that there was culpable neglect on the part of the SFI management on the accident that claimed the life of Mr. Yaning. We are also concerned about the SFI management very delayed response to report the accident to relevant authorities”, said Engrit Liaw, President of the Sabah Timber Employees Union (STIEU) President.

The fatal accident took place on 12th July this year at the chip mill division in SFI operation in Sipitang.

SFI was charged on the first account on its failure to ensure its worker safety, health and welfare while at work, thus causing the death of Mr. Janing.

“SFI management is infamously known not only gross violation of basic occupational safety and health laws but more so on fundamental workers and trade union rights, as demonstrated by its callous anti-union policy and practices and depriving its employees to join trade union organisation of their own choosing”, said Engrit Liaw.

According the Sabah based newspaper Daily Express, the offence under Section 15(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1994 provides for a fine of up to MYR 50,000 (11,686 USD) or jail term of up to two years, or both, on conviction.

On violation of Factories and Machinery Acts, SFI is accused of failing to install a fence on the conveyor machine, which caused the death of Mr. Yaning at the place and time. Under Section 15 of Factories and Machineries Act of 1967 it carries a fine of up to MYR 50,00 or jail term of a year or both.

The STIEU has for more than two decades now are struggling for union recognition in SFI to no avail since the latter is using legal manoeuvrings through Judicial Reviews to thwart it.

The company is under investigation by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Compliance Advisory Ombudsman of the World Bank for its deceitful acts to comply with ILO Conventions 87 and 98 as required in certification systems and WB Performance Standard 2.