Nepali workers riot over colleague's death

Nepali workers riot over colleague's death
Demonstrating concern: Workers holding up a sign stating their terms during a strike at their quarters.

JOHOR BARU, Malaysia - Some 1,500 Nepalese have refused to go to work for more than 36 hours at a mechanical component manufacturing plant and even flung things out of their living quarters in protest following the death of a colleague.

They threw out pieces of metal and glass, electronic products, chairs and boots from their four-storey hostel, smashing the glass windows of the guard's post, while some turned a parked van to its side.

The drama started to unfold on Thursday evening at the hostel which is located a stone's throw away from the plant in Jalan Firma 3 at the Tebrau IV industrial area here.

According to sources, the workers started the strike to show their dissatisfaction with the factory's alleged negligence in handling the health issue of a worker who died of chest problems that day.

The factory's management went to the living quarters yesterday and spoke to the workers to find out their concerns. Its executive director Datuk Tan Shih Leng denied that they had neglected the deceased's initial complaints of chest pains. He said the management had given him medical leave earlier to recover before he died at the hospital.

"The workers were just concerned that the company would not pay out the remaining two years' salary of their deceased countryman as per his contract. We assured them that the company will pay the salary of any foreigners who works with our company under a three-year contract - even if he were to pass away during that period," he said.

According to him, factory workers who passed away after exceeding the three-year contract period would get a RM10,000 (S$3,950) compensation on top of insurance claims.

Tan said that the workers had agreed to go back to work during the factory's 7pm shift on Friday.

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