Friday, December 18, 2015

Planters Starts to Lose Grips on Estate Labourers - Dublin and Havard Estates

The fair treatment given to labourers in estate nowadays did not materialized from sincere empathy of planters (estate owners) towards the hardship faced by the labourers, but from determined struggles manifested through work stoppage, disobedience and protest staged by labourers.

In the early stage, the labourers seems to be successful in getting the planters to agree to their terms and conditions. Many labour struggles which saw intervention of Repsentative of the Government of India - S.K Chettur seemed to materialize aspiration of the workers. One of the incidents were reported in The Straits Times on the successful labour strike organised on Dublin and Havard estates in Kedah under leadership of A. M Samy.
The Straits Times on the 2nd September 1946 reported that S.K Chettur settled strikes staged on Dublin Estate, Kulim and Havard Estate in Sungai Petani. A number of 3000 thousands workers reported had returned to work after the British Planter agreed with the terms and conditions.

These terms and condition were as followings:

1. An addition of two gantangs (12 katis approximately 7.3kgs) of rice shall be given per month to labourers on top of their usual ration.

2. Rubber tappers will be paid a bonus of 10 cents over  per pound over 20 pounds of dry rubber brought in daily and if work is properly done they will receive a minimum bonus of 20 cents a day.

3. Overtime work 2 pm to 5 pm will be paid for at the raid of 55 cents for male adults and 48 cents for female adults.

4. On rainy days, if work is stopped during morning, the workers will be paid half-a-day salary and will get full pay if stopped at 9 am.

5. Women will be granted maternity leave for two months - one month before and one moth after giving birth will maternity allowance of $22.80 per month.

6. Payment in respect to due in December 1941 will be made within a period of resumption of work.

7. No labourers will be stopped from work without sound reasons.

But these did not last long as the planters realized in long run that they will lose out to estate labourers and slowly realized that the workers were being aware of their rights.

It is noticed here that overdue salary issues (salary withheld by estates owners prior to World War II) highlighted in the demand. Most estate owners refused or evaded from the responsibility settling overdue salary which they owned to the labourers. Excuses were put on poor global economic due to war. But in reality rubber prices sky-rocketed as demand was high from US war industry.        

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