THE National Union of Bank Employees (Nube) commended Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s firmness in disallowing further withdrawals from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) whenever a disaster hits the country.
This was also supported by Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz and EPF.
Nube secretary general J Solomon (picture) said the schemes and incentives announced by the PM may assist the flood victims, and if they are insufficient, the government should increase its resource allocation accordingly.
“Nube certainly sympathises with the plight of the flood victims, but dipping into the workers’ retirement fund during each disaster is not a wise approach.
“It is a universally accepted view that the governments, at both the federal and state levels, are responsible for ensuring the availability of sufficient basic necessities and their timely distribution to alleviate the hardships faced by flood victims,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Solomon noted that the workers’ retirement fund has been significantly reduced from the withdrawals made over the last two years, consequent to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This led to a significant number of contributors, largely from the B40 (bottom 40% income group), being highly vulnerable in retirement.
Solomon said it was rather shocking that a high 28% (3.6 million EPF members) have less than RM1,000 in their savings.
He also took a jab at Umno politicians who had been pressuring the EPF to utilise workers’ retirement funds during every disaster.
“The Umno government of more than 60 years failed to lift the wages of workers to match Singapore and other neighbouring countries, which were either behind us or with us at one time.
“For Malaysians, this age of unparalleled prosperity is causing great social dislocation,” he said.
He added that the lack of political will to fight institutional corruption has led to the deeply worsening and troubling levels of corruption, as well as unfair labour laws that have further hindered workers and unions from demanding a fair labour share of the income from the profits.
“Nube recognises some of the good policies Umno implemented during their tenure as the main ruling coalition partner, but insisting on continuous withdrawals from the EPF, even for flood victims, is a non-starter if the party wishes to serve the rakyat sincerely after a poor showing in the last election.”
He also said Umno should urge the government to use its resources to give genuine assistance to the flood victims and close the wide gap of inequality created during their 60-year administration.
He added that government-linked companies and government-linked investment companies were not exemplary in promoting the living wage.
“To add salt to the wound, the misappropriation of Malaysia’s sovereign fund by certain leaders has retarded income growth for ordinary citizens, who must be cared for during such disasters.”
He hoped that the current administration will not repeat the same mistakes as previous administrations and will prepare an immediate action plan for a decent living wage for workers so that they have adequate savings for emergencies and appropriate retirement savings for social protection.
“Nube supports the stand taken by the PM and hopes that he will firmly defend his decision for the wellbeing of the contributors in the long run. Nube hopes his party will not succumb to short-term popular political pressure and leave the workers in the lurch in the long term.
“Doing so will cause severe social problems, and we are already seeing such indications,” he concluded.