Termination of 6 expats from Proton subsidiary valid, says judge

Lotus-Engineering-MalaysiaPETALING JAYA: The Industrial Court has dismissed a claim by six expatriates that their termination from employment by a car manufacturer was unlawful.

Tribunal chairman Mary Shakila G Azariah said their dismissal by Lotus Engineering Malaysia Sdn Bhd was held to have been with just cause and excuse.

She said the court was satisfied that the company, represented by T Thavalingam, had shown the termination resulted from genuine financial losses.

“It is the right of every employer to reorganise its business in any manner for the purposes of economy or convenience, provided it acts bona fide,” she said in her ruling made last week.

However, she said this case was an outright closure of business operations of the company due to its uncollected debts.

“All six claimants agreed that the company’s main customer was Youngman, of China. A witness for the company testified that it could not collect the monies owing to it by Youngman,” she said.

Mary Shakila said on the facts and evidence, it was impossible for the company to continue its business.

“The claimants had not tendered any evidence to show that the retrenchment was motivated by bad faith and a desire to victimise or harass them,” she said.

According to the judge, perhaps the company suffered losses as a result of bad management decisions but this did not disentitle it from retrenching its employees.

She said an employer was not obliged to find suitable employment for its redundant workers especially if the retrenchment was carried out properly.

Mary Shakila said the claimants were expatriates employed for their specialised skills and this would make finding suitable alternative jobs for them a difficult task.

“There would be issues of work permits that would have to be applied all over again, unlike the local employees of the company moving to other related companies, if at all.

“Under the circumstances it would not have been reasonable for the claimants to be redeployed within the Proton Group or the company which had ceased operations,” she added.

Andrew David Nicolson, Ian Maxwell, Stuart Ian Worrow, Lee Michael Jones, Douglas Robert Chester and Matthew Clive Walton were terminated on Sept 30, 2012.

They were employed on fixed term contracts with valid work permits issued by the immigration department.

They contend that their employer had promised alternative employment and opportunity to relocate within the DRB-Hicom, Proton or Lotus Group.

They claimed the employer managed to secure alternative employment for their 58 local colleagues within the group of companies.