CHUKAI, April 24 — A total of 709 former workers of Perwaja Steel Sdn Bhd (Perwaja) in Kemaman, who were retrenched in November 2014, today received compensation totalling RM8.645 million.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob handed over compensation cheques to them, with each getting between RM3,000 and RM21,000.

Ismail Sabri said the issue of the former workers’ claim for compensation had been resolved after a seven-year court battle.

“I believe this is a gift for the coming Aidilfitri celebration,” he said at the cheque presentation ceremony at the Kemaman Umno division office hall here.

Perwaja, set up in 1982 under the country's heavy industrialisation policy, changed ownership several times after running into financial and other problems, before it eventually ceased operations.  

Meanwhile, Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general Kamarul Baharin Mansor said Perwaja had contributed a lot to Kemaman's development.

“But the way the former workers were retrenched was very sad. They were not paid their salaries for up to six months and not allowed to enter the factory. Only a notice was posted on the entrance of the premises,” he said.

A. Ghani Ismail, 62, who worked with Perwaja for 30 years, thanked everyone who had fought for the workers’ rights, saying he was grateful that the case was finally settled.

“Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah) justice has been served. I think I will use this money for Raya and to perform the umrah,” said the former store supervisor, who received RM20,000.

Jalilati Said, 45, said her efforts in seeking compensation for her 13 years’ service as a clerk had finally paid off.

“I went to court twice in 2018 to get compensation. I never failed to attend any MTUC programmes related to this problem because I was keen to know the latest developments,” she added.

The mother of four said she would use the money she received today to settle debts and other commitments, including to cover the losses suffered after her food stall in Teluk Kalong here was flooded recently. — Bernama