Friday, June 4, 2010

400 Kenmark workers' future in doubt

PORT KLANG: More than 400 workers of furniture maker Kenmark Industries ' a public listed company ' here are stranded as their owner has gone missing, the executives have resigned and the factory has been sealed.

Their salaries for last month had been paid but they were not given any indication that the factory would be sealed and they would be jobless.

The workers were shocked to find the factory gates locked when they reported for duty Monday, according to the Malaysian Trades Union (MTUC) vice-president A Balasubramaniam who was at the scene to assist the workers.

He told Bernama that the MTUC would assist the workers to file for retrenchment benefits.

Two hundred of the workers were locals and 206 foreigners, mainly Bangladeshis and Myanmars. All the foreign workers are now housed in a hostel opposite the factory.

Balasubramaniam wants the Labour Department to assist the foreign workers in obtaining their full benefits before they leave for home.

The company's former human resources manager, Yeow Kim Fah, when contacted, said: "I'm not sure about the future of the workers as it depends on the management." He declined to elaborate.

Yeow, who had been with the company for 16 years, said: "Even my future is uncertain".

One of the workers, who identified himself as Atan, said: "We were shocked when we came for work yesterday and saw the factory sealed.

"We were confused as to what was happening because no one was able to tell us, but there were rumours among the workers that the owner, a Taiwanese, had left the country and that the company would soon be auctioned off."

According to the company's 2009 annual report, managing director James Hwang, a Taiwanese national, was the biggest single shareholder with 27.61% holding.

Hwang could not be contacted despite several attempts.

A statement from Bursa Malaysia says Kenmark is now a PN17 company following loan defaults and letters of demand from EON Bank and Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Bhd.

A check at the bourse revealed that Kenmark's share price as at 10.30am Tuesday had plunged to 4.5 sen a piece.

Meanwhile, Labour Director-General Datuk Sheikh Yahya Sheikh Mohamed said investigations by the department were underway.

"We will do our best to assist the workers in every way possible," he told Bernama. ' Bernama

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