State PKR chairman Baru Bian is disappointed to have received reports that young Sarawakian graduates are being bypassed for employment in the Pan Borneo Highway project, and that workers are being brought in from Peninsular Malaysia and overseas.
Baru, who is Ba Kelalan assemblyman, said the hurdle, as he understood it, was that the project delivery partner Lebuhraya Borneo Utara’s (LBU) insistence that for technical positions, all recruits must have a minimum of five years’ experience.
“This requirement by LBU applies to all companies which 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 with this project. The local companies are forced to recruit from outside Sarawak. This involves a few hundred positions that could be filled by Sarawakians,” he said in a press statement yesterday.
Not only that, Baru said he was given to understand that employees of the local contractors were tied to a salary scale set by the Ministry of Finance, while those employed by LBU were not, resulting in huge salary gaps (up to 50 per cent) 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.”
He was also given to understand that non-Sarawakian workers were working without work permits and were therefore not covered by insurance while carrying out their work.
“This situation is not acceptable at all, for all parties concerned.”
Baru would like clarification from the minister concerned and the State Secretary whether this is indeed the case, and if so, he requested that job opportunities on this project be extended to Sarawakians first.
“If they are not given the opportunity to work, how is this project benefiting 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.”
On a positive note, Baru said it was indeed gratifying that the Pan Borneo Highway project was underway after so many years of delay. The long-suffering travellers of Sarawak could 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 project listed under ‘High Economic Multiplier for Sarawak’ is ‘Jobs creation (direct and indirect)’.
Source : Jonathan Chia @ Borneo Post Online