KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysians Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has called upon the government to take into account the needs of workers as it seeks to provide assistance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
On Saturday, Finance Minister Tengku Zahrul Tengku Abdul Aziz had confirmed that more financial assistance was on the way for SMEs next week, something the companies and employers have been demanding in recent days.
MTUC secretary-general J.Solomon said additional financial assistance sought by the SMEs must come with enough checks and conditions to ensure that they do not retrench workers and their salaries and leave were kept intact.
He said that protection of workers interest must be a top priority of the government in aiding the SMEs.
“Over the past few weeks, employers and SMEs have kept reminding Malaysians and the government that SMEs must be saved as they are the backbone to the economy, contributing 38.3 per cent to the country’s GDP.
“ What has been forgotten in this clamour for more government assistance is that these very same companies employ 64 per cent of the total work force in the private sector.
“As such, the thrust of the government assistance should be on the SMEs and the workers as well. The government and the employers have a moral and public duty in protecting the livelihood of these workers and their families,” Solomon said in a statement here today.
The additional financial aid from the government for the SMEs would likely to be in the billions, on top of the RM100 billion already allocated to the sector earlier.
Solomon urged the government to ensure that workers' interests were protected and it was made a pivotal condition for SMEs to obtain government financial assistance.
“It has been reported that some employers have already forced workers under duress to apply for voluntary retrenchment, wage cuts and leave disregarding government's directives.
“Therefore, the government must through the Human Resources Minister make Emergency Employment Regulations to prevent retrenchment, wage cuts and forced annual leave availment during the next one year,” he said.
The Finance Minister had also sounded the possibility of an economic recovery in 2021 and revealed that there was a RM121 billion as extra capital buffer in the financial system.
Solomon said having this ‘cushion’ makes it all the more imperative for the government and employers not to neglect workers by ensuring they keep their jobs and their income intact.
“In due course, these workers will once again become the frontliners for Malaysia’s economic recovery.
“Therefore, SMEs and the government must ensure these frontliners do not become victims of short-sighted policies nor unscrupulous employers in their current hour of need,” he said.
He said it must be stressed that whatever cash assistance given to SMEs it must be used to retain their staff and provide long-term job security.
“There should be no compromise on protecting the B40 workers. Most of them depend on daily or low monthly wages. Many are on minimum wages and ignoring them will result in serious social implications,” Solomon said, adding that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s declaration that no one should be left behind must be taken seriously by the employers too. They should take this as their National Service to help employees keep their jobs.
Meanwhile, he said the MTUC also wants the government to remove the RM4,000 monthly wage ceiling for workers to apply for the RM600 per month subsidy.
“Even M40 workers earning between RM4,000 and RM8,000 struggle in cities like KL (Kuala Lumpur), JB (Johor Baru) and Penang.
“These urban poor do not fall into this category and thus should qualify for the aid,” he said.
Source : https://www.nst.com.my/…/help-smes-should-not-cause-loss-wo…