MTUC: No opening of non-essential businesses please

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) logo

KUCHING, Apr 14: Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) is against any move to open up non-essential businesses without the full endorsement of the Health Ministry.

For MTUC, the danger of opening more shops and stores is simply far too great, given what is known about Covid-19.

MTUC Secretary General J Solomon in a statement stated its worries about attempts by certain government leaders and employers to shift the Covid-19 narrative from the aspect of public health risks to reopening the economy.

“There seemed to be attempts to shift public attention to when non-essential businesses should be allowed to reopen, rather than whether it’s safe to do so in the first place,” said Solomon.

While appreciating Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin retracting decision on the opening of salons, barber shops and optical shops during the third phase of the MCO, Solomon questioned the necessity of allowing other non-essential businesses such as launderettes (not self-service laundromats), hardware stores and electrical stores to operate, especially when little is known about the safety measures that will be in place to ensure the safety of employers, workers and the public.

“The MCO has, of course, come at a terrible cost to workers who have been forced to take pay cuts or even laid off by unscrupulous employers who took such cruel measures despite cashing into the slew of goodies given by the government in three stimulus packages.

“The workers, despite being poor and marginalised, are the ones hardest hit by the MCO and would love nothing more than to return to their jobs.

“However, MTUC cannot take a stand which adds further risk to the health of the workers and the public with regards to the proposed opening up of certain non-essential businesses.

“There are cases of MTUC members in essential services such as the health care, banking sector, etc. contracting Covid-19. We simply will not risk putting our members and their families into further jeopardy,” said Solomon.

He held that the government must display an extreme sense of responsibility and accountability in tackling bread and butter issues. The ability to prioritise the rakyat’s life is paramount.

“Proposing to opening barber shops with scant information on safety measures is an example of poor discretion. Similar mistakes must be avoided.

“Employers should not interpret the critical sector liberally for their own ends. No one in non-essential services should be forced to go to work. And no one should be sacked for following official instructions by staying home.”

Solomon said many workers are concerned about catching the virus and giving it to family members with underlying health conditions and are too scared to speak out as they could be fired.

“No employer should put workers in this situation. For this reason MTUC has been embarking for the implementation of the Emergency Employment Regulations to prevent Retrenchment, pay cut and forced leave on workers.

“As such, the government, guided by the Health Ministry, must make public its proposals in ensuring the health and safety of workers and the public before tabling any proposal in reopening the economy, even on a limited scale.

“Only then, employers, workers and the public will be able to make an informed decision about their health with regard to Covid-19,” said Solomon. —DayakDaily