PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) today urged the government to rein in the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) over the latter’s refusal to pay the employees of companies told to shut down for the next two weeks in line with the movement restriction order announced by the prime minister to curb the spread of Covid-19 last night.
MTUC secretary-general J Solomon said the refusal was “inhumane” as MEF would directly benefit from the government’s RM20 billion stimulus package.
“We call on the government to convene an urgent meeting with MEF and MTUC to address this pressing issue.
“Workers must be assured of an adequate safety net when the shutdown is executed,” he said in a statement.
Solomon also acknowledged that the order was necessary to curb the spread of the disease but said it would also affect some 300,000 Malaysians employed in Singapore.
“These workers need urgent answers on whether they will be allowed to travel to the island republic or take paid leave.
“There must be a government-to-government dialogue between Malaysia and Singapore to address this issue urgently for more clarity.”
Based on Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s announcements, he said, the low-wage earners would suffer the brunt of the economic downturn caused by Covid-19.
He urged the banking industry to step in and help workers by imposing a moratorium on housing and vehicle loans, praising the decision by Bank Rakyat, SME Bank and Tekun Nasional to waive monthly loan payments for six months for B40 and M40 workers.
“MTUC has written to the association of banks in Malaysia to consider the deferment of instalments on housing, vehicle and education loans,” he said.
He added that the 2% discount for electricity was a good initiative for companies but said it would be negligible when translated into savings for domestic users.
Adding that a 50% discount for domestic users would be more meaningful, he called on Perikatan Nasional to show its commitment to ensuring the rights and welfare of low-wage earners.