Sabah timber thrilled

30 June 2016 10:32


27 July 2016 - Today the Sabah High Court dismissed a judicial review case that had been filed by SFI/BILT, stating that the Minister had discharged his duty appropriately in compliance with the obligations of the Department of Industrial Relations. This will clear the way for a new secret ballot for union recognition for the Sabah Timber Industries Employees Union (STIEU). 

“The judicial review is a great outcome and another step towards justice,” said Engrit Liaw, General Secretary of the STIEU. “The workers are thrilled with the result, but we know that SFI/BILT still has a 30-day period in which they can appeal the decision.” 

The review looked at a decision from the Minister of Human Resources to include the votes of a number of union members holding a supervisory role, in the results of a secret ballot. The company argued that the supervisor was at management level and therefore his vote should not count towards the secret ballot, disputing the findings of an investigation undertaken by the Department of Industrial Relations. 

STIEU’s long-running case for union recognition has been the subject of a recent decision from Forest Stewardship Council, which, inter alia, demanded SFI/BILT withdraw all legal cases that would frustrate union recognition. SFI/BILT were required to submit an action plan and progress report by 24 June indicating how they will comply with FSC’s decision; failure to do this meant SFI/BILT would risk potential disassociation. While this is yet to be done, FSC have granted them a one week grace period. 

“This has gone on for decades now,” said Liaw. “It is time for SFI/BILT to stop playing games and to start playing fair. We are looking for a new era of harmonious industrial relations and a measure of decency, hardly a big ask. If they want to keep the economic benefits of association with FSC then they should accept the judiciary’s decision and cooperate with the Ministry of Human Resources to make way for the upcoming secret ballot.”