9 MARCH 2017
It is indeed gratifying that the Pan Borneo Highway project is underway after so many years of delay. The long-suffering travellers of Sarawak can at last look forward to safer and shorter road trips.
In the website of the project delivery partner Lebuhraya Borneo Utara (LBU) website (http://www.panborneo.com.my/), one of the benefits of the projects listed under ‘High Economic Multiplier for Sarawak’ is ‘Jobs creation (direct and indirect)’.
In this regard, I was disappointed to receive reports that young Sarawakian graduates are being bypassed for employment, and that workers are being brought in from West Malaysia and overseas.
The hurdle, as I understand it, is the project delivery partner’s insistence that for technical positions, all recruits must have a minimum of 5 years’ experience. This requirement by LBU applies to all companies who have been awarded the 11 work packages. This condition effectively excludes a large group of Sarawakians who are ready to work but unable to get employment on this project, as the local companies are forced to recruit from outside Sarawak. This involves a few hundred positions that could be filled by Sarawakians.
Not only that, but I was given to understand that employees of the local contractors are tied to the salary scale set by the Ministry of Finance, whilst those employed by LBU are not, resulting in huge salary gaps (up to 50% difference) between Sarawakian employees and those from outside. This disparity is even more pronounced given the higher level of responsibility of the local employees who are tasked with quality control.
Also, I am given to understand that the non-Sarawakian workers are working without work permits and are therefore not covered by insurance whilst carrying out their work. This situation is not acceptable at all, for all parties concerned.
We would like clarification from the Minister concerned and the State Secretary whether this is indeed the case, and if so, we request that job opportunities on this project be extended to Sarawakians first. If they are not given the opportunity to work, how is this project benefitting them, and how are they going to gain experience? The joint venture partners may be Sarawakians but with limitations on the employment of Sarawakians, the only people benefitting are the local bosses and the outstation/foreign employees who send their salaries home.
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak / ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan