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SOPPOA meeting with Labor Department Sarawak to clarify issues pertaining mandatory RTK antigen test for foreign workers in plantations

Sunday, 7 February 2021

KUCHING: SOPPOA representatives led by Mr Andrew Cheng, CEO SOPPOA met with the Ybg Encik Sulaiman bin Ismail, Deputy Director, Labor Department Sarawak, Tuan Shamsul Rahmat of Perkeso and Tuan Haji Arahman Ismail of Department of Occupational Safety and Health and their teams at Labor Department Headquarters office in Kuching Friday, 5th February 2021.

Tuan Sulaiman who chaired the meeting, reaffirmed that the government is making it compulsory for all sectors in Malaysia to have foreign workers tested for Covid-19 infections using the RTK antigen as announced by the Minister for Human Resource on 2nd February 2021. The department also informed that it will only reconsider granting extension dateline on completion of mandatory RTK testing for Foreign workers which is expected to complete by 28th Feb 2021 in Sarawak unless it is absolutely necessary. The extension was requested by SOPPOA due to the large number of FW involved and with limited clinics, medical centres, especially in Miri, Sibu and Bintulu districts where limited panel clinics are assigned to handle the biggest contingents of plantation FW employed in the state. RTK antigen test kits (105,000 pax) for FW in Sarawak has been confirmed by PERKESO to have airlifted by TUDM to Sarawak on 4th Feb 2021 and has just been distributed to the various Perkeso district offices for distribution to panel clinics. There are about 120,000 registered FW out of which 70,000 FW are for the plantation sector.

Employers are advised to negotiate with relevant medical centres on cost involved for the professional services but RTK kits are provided free by Perkeso for FW who are registered under Perkeso. SOPPOA voiced concern over the current high fees for some of the professional/logistic services charge due to limited clinics and some panel doctors (a mandatory requirement) not willing to travel and do RTK antigen test in remote/rural work premise locations. Perkeso is requested to look into this matter. Tuan Shamsul from Perkeso also informed that employers employing FW currently not registered with Perkeso can still do so without any penalty imposed on employers during this grace period. Encik Sulaiman also reminded employers to provide proper adequate and safe accommodation for FW working in Sarawak despite Housing Act 446 is still not implemented in the state until further notice.

SOPPOA supports SDMC and Labor Department Sarawak call for full cooperation from all sectors to combat Covid-19 spread by strictly complying to Covid-19 prevention SOPs and restricted movements in all the work premises during operations.