While Malaysia has been in lockdown since 18 March to stop the spread of COVID-19, more than 200 timber mills across the country have been given work stoppage exemptions, leaving thousands of migrant workers concerned about their health and safety.
“We’re in close communication with workers in many mills. While they fear for their health and safety, they also say that if they don’t work, they will receive no income,” said Azlan bin Yaacob, General Secretary of the Timber Employees Union of Peninsula Malaysia. “Right now, they feel like they’re being made to choose between COVID-19 or starvation.”
Yaacob said that the potential spread of the virus among workers and their living quarters is a matter of great concern.
“We want to immediately see the mandatory and regular testing of all workers working on the sites and those exempted from the MCO to ensure their health and safe, and the industry doesn’t become a vector for the virus.”