THE National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) backed the Government’s decision in not allowing anymore withdrawals from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) despite pressure.
“We laud Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz and EPF’s stand in disallowing more withdrawals despite pressure from certain politicians.
“And we also welcome Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s statement that he will stand by his decision for the sake of its contributors’ future wellbeing.
“NUBE hopes that the Government would not succumb to short-term populist moves while leaving workers in the lurch, in the long run,” its general secretary J Solomon said, in a statement.
Three days ago, Tengku Zafrul urged the public not to fall for calls by certain politicians who insisted that the Government should allow flood victims to withdraw up to RM10,000 from the EPF to rebuild their lives.
He reminded the public that during the pandemic, the EPF had disbursed almost RM101 bil via various schemes such as i-Lestari, i-Sinar and i-Citra.
“And almost 50% of EPF contributors have less than RM10,000 in their accounts, with 79% of them having less than RM1,000,” he was reported saying.
The Penang Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) also urged the prime minister not to bow to such pressure and urged the latter to increase aid money to flood victims to RM10,000 instead.
Among the proponents of more withdrawals from the EPF are former premier Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and UMNO youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki.
Touching on the matter, Solomon said that while he sympathised with the flood victims’ plight, the onus fell on the Government to help alleviate their hardship during these trying times.
If the schemes announced by the Government were insufficient, he added, the former should increase its allocation to help the communities affected.
“Being obsessed about dipping into workers’ retirement savings for every natural disaster actually reflects the incompetency of the Government and politicians from the ruling coalition,” Solomon mentioned.
UMNO failed workers, especially the Malays
He then reminded politicians that as said by Tengku Zafrul, workers’ retirement savings in the EPF had sharply reduced due to the withdrawals made in the last two years due to COVID-19.
On the low contribution to the EPF by workers, Solomon reminded UMNO politicians that most of them come from the very community they were supposedly championing.
“UMNO had failed to uplift workers’ wages to match Singapore and other neighbouring countries, with some of them being behind us years ago. For Malaysians, this age of unparalleled prosperity is also causing great social dislocation.
“Plus, the Government’s lack of political will to fight corruption had made things worse. The ‘cancer’ called graft had deprived workers of their fair share of the nation’s wealth.
“Unfair labour laws have also hindered workers and unions from demanding for a fair share of income derived from the profits. Government-linked companies (GLCs) and Government-linked investment companies (GLIC) are not exemplary in promoting the living wage either,” Solomon quipped.
He remarked: “NUBE hopes that Ismail Sabri will not repeat the mistakes of his predecessors and enact a living wage policy for workers so the latter will have decent savings for their retirement.” – Jan 4, 2022.