KUALA LUMPUR (June 3): The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) is urging Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to come up with a viable and sustainable plan to address the woes of workers in Malaysia, ahead of the premier's announcement of a short-term economic recovery plan for the country later this month.
"The government cannot talk about any economic recovery without having an effective game plan to mitigate growing unemployment and deep salary cuts, which have left thousands of workers in a lurch and unable to support their families," MTUC secretary-general J Solomon said in a statement on Wednesday.
As he chided the government for not being able to stop these from happening, and how both local as well as migrant workers who have the least continue to suffer the most in the Covid-19 pandemic, he said Putrajaya should stop relying on conventional methods like dishing out one-off cash handouts.
Instead, introduce measures that provide a sustainable safety net for workers, he said, like extending the six-month moratorium for housing and car loan payments, introduced in March, by another six months. This move, he said, will greatly benefit thousands of workers who have either lost their jobs or been forced to take massive pay cuts.
"The Prime Minister's Office must undertake a comprehensive review of the measures taken under the Prihatin packages to help workers. Putrajaya must acknowledge that its move to have poor workers dip into their already meagre EPF savings for household expenses and the use of Socso funds to pay for health checks is not only counter-productive to interests of workers but also an act of cruelty and injustice perpetrated on them," said Solomon.
"Therefore, we appeal to the government to find more effective and just ways to keep workers at their jobs, shield them from unfair pay cuts and reduce their household expenses as the economy finds its footing. The embattled workers need peace of mind to know that the government truly cares for them in their time of need.
"Germany has spent 60% of its GDP to prop the workers and the economy during this time while Malaysia has only used about 18%. More must be pumped in to help the workers in this regard," Solomon said.
His statement came after Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said on Tuesday that Muhyiddin will be launching the Short-Term Economic Recovery Plan for June to December 2020, this month. The plan will reportedly focus on empowering people, propelling businesses and stimulating the economy.
"We also appeal to Tan Sri Muhyiddin to consider the possibility of providing a sustainable financial net for B40 and M40 workers until the economy is up and running again. Critics will be quick to claim that the government does not have the financial means to provide a monthly allowance of RM1,000 to the poor workers in Malaysia. However, MTUC feels this is something the government can do, bearing in mind the oil prices are recovering and the government also has sizeable foreign reserves at its disposal," Solomon further said.
The government must also improve the wage subsidy scheme, he said, as many workers are still being laid off as employers view retrenchments as a quick fix to their problems, despite benefitting from various forms of government aid.
"The government must expand the wage subsidy scheme to cover workers earning a salary of more than RM4,000 a month. This helps to keep more workers, especially locals, at their jobs," he said.
In addition, he hopes the prime minister will see the urgent need of introducing Emergency Employment Regulations (EER) to bar retrenchments for a specific period, especially since the Malaysian Employers Federation had warned that up to two million Malaysians might lose their jobs due to the pandemic.
Unemployment is now the biggest worry for ordinary Malaysians, he said, citing the recent survey findings of market research company Ipsos, which found 51% of Malaysians worrying about unemployment in May — up from 39% a year ago — overtaking public concerns about corruption and crime.
"As such, we strongly urge Tan Sri Muhyiddin not to disregard the valid fears of the rakyat and instead address the unemployment problem firmly when he announces the economic recovery plan.
"The Statistics Department has already warned about worsening unemployment as thousands of fresh graduates will join the job market in the second half of the year as the country is expected to slide into recession by year end. Putrajaya must not trivialise or downplay this reality but instead, put in place strong measures to help workers mitigate the economic downturn," Solomon added.
Source : https://www.theedgemarkets.com/…/mtuc-wants-muhyiddin-come-…
The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) is urging Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to come up with a viable and sustainable plan to address the woes of workers in Malaysia, ahead of the premier's announcement of a short-term economic recovery plan for the country later this month.