Youth unemployment nothing to do with older people in workforce, MTUC tells Putrajaya

MTUC says Malaysians are unemployed due to low wages, not a lack of jobs. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) is unhappy with the government’s refusal to raise the retirement age to 65 years, saying the prime minister should have listened to the plight of retirees instead of “outright rejecting the proposal”.

It was reported that Dr Mahathir Mohamad had disagreed with any move to raise the mandatory retirement age to 65, following protest by Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman who claimed this would affect job opportunities for the youths.

“We regret that Mahathir chose to reject it outright without offering any counter suggestions to tackle the related problems like low and insufficient minimum age, rising cost of living and low EPF savings,” said MTUC secretary-general J Solomon.

He said raising the retirement age would not deny employment to youths or create deadwood in the workforce as claimed by critics.

“This reasoning confounds logic as in actual fact, many older workers have great experience and were hardworking although they were old.

“Of course, there are the the lazy ones but such workers also exist among the young ones. Laziness is an attitude and transcends age barriers,” he said.

Solomon also took Syed Saddiq to task for his opposition, saying Malaysians were unemployed due to low wages, not a lack of jobs.

“Syed Saddiq should be sensitive to the real problems faced by the young generation in not getting jobs, and not reject our proposal without any study or listening to us.

“He wants to be seen as the champion of the youths. But do not do it at the expense of the workers in the B40 and M40 groups who are grappling daily with problems of low wages, high cost of living and insufficient savings in EPF,” he said.

Solomon also said private sector employers were not filling in vacancies left by retiring staff to save on operational costs.

“No private sector employer can guarantee that vacancies created by those retiring will be replaced. Instead, they find ways not to fill the vacancies or offer the jobs to foreigners with low wages or do away with the positions,” he said.

Solomon said Syed Saddiq had not shown similar passion for youth employment when MTUC pushed the government to raise the minimum wage to RM1,800, despite the youths being the beneficiaries.

He urged Mahathir would reconsider the decision ahead of the next budget, to be tabled in October, adding that the union was ready to meet both Syed Saddiq and the prime minister.

“Pakatan Harapan should display sincerity by cooperating with MTUC to reduce the burden of the 15 million workers in the country,” he said.