Retrenchment fund focus of May Day rally by 15 NGOs, PSM


KUALA LUMPUR: A peaceful rally will be held on May 1, in conjunction with International Workers’s Day, which is also known as Labour Day, demanding the government start a fund for the benefit of workers who have been retrenched.

The organising committee comprising 15 NGOs and Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) held a press conference today announcing the assembly, which is called “Hilang Kerja, Pekerja Merana: Worker’s Retrenchment Fund Now!”

The key demand for the establishment of a workers retrenchment fund is to address issues faced by workers who have lost their jobs due to companies going bankrupt, relocation or even budget cuts by the government.

The NGOs involved include Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Jerit), Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Sisters In Islam (SiS), Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), Kesatuan Mahasiswa Malaysia (Kesatuan), Free Education Movement, Sahabat Wanita, Buku Jalanan, Rumah Bayang, Malaysian Youth and Students’ Democratic Movement (Dema) and Sisters for Justice.

The organising committee said the assembly will start at 10am, with participants gathering at the old railway station opposite the national mosque, before the May Day rally proceeds with a march to Bukit Bintang.

PSM central committee member S Arutchelvan said they had notified the Dang Wangi district police headquarters of the planned assembly and rally, which is expected to draw thousands of participants.

“We have also invited the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) and the Malaysian Bar to monitor the gathering.

“We’ve invited them to provide their respective observers to monitor the assembly,” he said, adding that they had also notified the Kuala Lumpur Legal Aid Centre in the event of any untoward incidents during the rally.

Aside from the workers retrenchment fund, the committee is also demanding women worker’s rights, the implementation of a RM1,500 minimum wage and migrant workers’ rights.

They are also calling for the government to recognise the land rights of the Orang Asli, free and fair elections, and the abolishment of all forms of law that oppress the people, such as the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca), Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota), Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) and the Sedition Act.

Meanwhile, the group comprising undergraduates, Kesatuan, said the workers’ retrenchment fund should also cater for lecturers whose contracts are terminated due to budget cuts.

Kesatuan chairperson Ani Syafiqah Yusof said the government’s budget cuts had adversely affected public universities, resulting in many academic staff being laid off.

“It is important that the worker’s retrenchment fund be implemented soon, to assist lecturers who are either being terminated or have had their contract not renewed,” the Universiti Malaya student said.