“Kelantan workers have better rights than Sarawak” — Union chief expresses frustration over stalled Sarawak Labour Ordinance amendment bill

The Sarawak Bank Employees’ Union (SBEU) demands swift action on the Sarawak Labour Ordinance (SLO) amendment bill.

By DayakDaily Team

KUCHING, March 26: The Sarawak Bank Employees’ Union (SBEU) has expressed frustration over the delay in tabling the Sarawak Labour Ordinance (SLO) amendment bill in Parliament, despite the State Cabinet’s approval three years ago.

According to its chief executive officer (CEO) Andrew Lo in a press statement, the delay is seen as detrimental to workers’ rights, as employers benefit from the lack of progress.


“It has been 12 years since the 2012 EA (Employment Act) amendments and three years since the 2021 amendments. We still do not even have protection on prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace. Kelantan workers have better rights and benefits than Sarawak. Workers in Sarawak have been losing out every day.

“Since Dato Gerawat (Deputy Minister in the Premier’s Department (Labour, Immigration, and Project Monitoring) (Dato Gerawat Gala) has confirmed that the State Cabinet has approved the amendments in 2021, the SLO amendment Bill should have been tabled in Parliament three years ago.

“Employers have been reluctant to improve workers’ rights. This undue delay plays right into their employers’ hands,” he said.

He revealed that the union had carefully perused the State government’s stance that ‘As the SLO is only applicable to Sarawak and consistent with Sarawak’s right over entry of non-resident workers as provided in Article 161E(4) of the Federal Constitution and Section 65 of the Immigration Act, we had requested for a provision requiring the State’s concurrence for any future amendment to the SLO’.

“We note that S65 of the Immigration Act already gives absolute powers to the State to control the entry of non-Sarawakians, whether SLO is amended or not. This has been fortified by the several Federal Court decisions.

“The State Cabinet’s approval of the amendments in 2021 is acknowledgement that any amendments to the SLO already require the State government cabinet approval.

“As such we believe that it is misconceived that there is a judicial and or legislative need for a provision in the SLO requiring consultation for future amendments. It also offends the principle that Parliament is supreme and it cannot bind itself or a future Parliament.”

Lo further asserted that Article 161E(4) is already a safeguard guaranteed under the Federal Constitution to preserve the constitutional position of Sabah and Sarawak.

“Any consultation clause (if at all necessary), has to be at the Federal constitution level and to be deliberated at the MA63 Committee, not the SLO,” he added. — DayakDaily