MTUC calls for national plan to address workers’ hardships from Covid-19 pandemic

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) logo

KUCHING, June 3: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) is urging the federal government to come up with a strong viable and sustainable plan to address the woes of workers in Malaysia.

Its secretary-general J Solomon hopes to see Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin put in place strong measures to help workers mitigate the economic downturn when the latter announces the short-term economic recovery plan for the country later this month.

“The federal government must 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,” Solomon asserted in a statement today.

He noted that while Muhyiddin has time and again emphasised that ‘no one will be left behind’ in all his messages to the rakyat, workers—both locals and migrants who have the least—continued to suffer the most in the Covid-19 pandemic.

“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,” he added.

As such, he emphasised that the government must shed conventional methods such as dishing out one-off cash hand outs and instead introduce measures that provide a sustainable safety net for workers.

“The government 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,” he said.

Solomon opined that more money must be pumped in to help workers in this regards.

“For instance, the six-month moratorium for housing and car loans payment by financial institutions introduced in March has been a big help to workers. MTUC strongly calls on the Prime Minister to extend the moratorium by another six months. This move will greatly benefit thousands of workers who have either lost their jobs or forced to take massive pay cuts, rendering them unable to service their loans during this difficult period,” he added.

MTUC also urged the government to improve the wage subsidy scheme as many workers are still being laid off as employers viewed retrenchments as a quick fix to their problems.

“The government must expand the wage subsidy scheme to cover workers earning salary of more than RM4,000 a month. This will help to keep more workers, especially locals, at their jobs,” he opined.

Solomon highlighted that unemployment has now emerged as the biggest worry for ordinary Malaysians, as evidenced by the latest survey conducted by Ipsos, a market research company.

“The survey found that unemployment fears had increased by 12 per cent among respondents to 51 per cent from a year ago. The government should worry about this more than any other issues,” he added.

MTUC also hopes that Muhyiddin will see the urgent need to introduce Emergency Employment Regulations (EER) which it proposed to bar retrenchments for a specific period.

“Malaysian Employers Federation has warned that up to two million workers may lose their jobs when the Hari Raya festivities end soon.

“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 down play this reality but instead, put in place strong measures to help workers mitigate the economic downturn,” he added. — DayakDaily