KUALA LUMPUR: The National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) supports the government's decision not to allow further withdrawals from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), despite pressure from certain politicians.
NUBE general-secretary J. Solomon said the move by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz and EPF not to give in to such requests was timely and right to safeguard the future of employees upon retirement.
"The savings in EPF are for after retirement and not a fund that the public can dig into each time there's a disaster.
"NUBE sympathises with the plight of the recent flood victims but dipping into the workers' retirement fund during each disaster is not a wise approach," he said.
He said EPF has given enough statistics on the status of the workers' retirement savings
after various withdrawals were approved under the i-Lestari, i-Sinar and i-Citra schemes.
"This led to a significant number of contributors, largely from the B40 group, about 3.6 million members or 28 percent having less than RM1,000 in their savings," he said.
Solomon said it is universally accepted that the governments, at both the federal and state levels, are responsible for ensuring availability of sufficient basic necessities and their timely distribution, to alleviate the hardships faced by flood victims at all seven flood hit states.
"But, sadly, many of such contributors are from the community. We must accept the fact that the lack of sufficient savings is also, inter-alia, due to the absence of a decent wage increase for decades,"
He added that the Umno government of more than 60 years had also failed to uplift the wages of workers to match Singapore and other neighbouring countries, which were either behind us or
with us at one time.
Solomon said lack of political will to fight institutional corruption has led to the deeply worsening, troubling levels of corruption and great social dislocation among the community.
"Unfair labour laws have also hindered workers and unions from demanding for a fair labour share of income from the profits," he said, adding that GLCs and GLICs were not exemplary in promoting living wages.
He said NUBE hopes that the current government will not repeat the mistakes of his predecessors and prepare an immediate action plan for a decent living wage for workers so they will have sufficient savings for exigencies and appropriate retirement savings as social protection.
"NUBE supports the stand and hopes the government will not succumb to short term popular political pressure and leave the workers in the lurch in the long term," Solomon said, adding that the workers' retirement coffer has been significantly reduced from the withdrawals made in the last two years, consequent to the Covid-19 pandemic.