Workers must be protected in stimulus package for SMEs, says MTUC

The MTUC says retaining jobs and maintaining job security must be a priority of the government.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) said Putrajaya must ensure that financial assistance allocated for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is used to retain their staff and provide long-term job security.

Its secretary-general, J Solomon, said the thrust of the government assistance, which it expects to be worth billions of ringgit, should be on the SMEs and their workers.

“Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin must come up with enough checks and conditions to ensure the SMEs do not retrench workers and their salaries and leave kept intact. This must be a top priority of this government,” he said in a statement today.

Yesterday, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz said his ministry was refining a special stimulus package for SMEs to ease their difficulties. It will be raised in the Cabinet next week.

Solomon urged the government to make it a “pivotal condition” that for SMEs to obtain financial assistance, the workers’ interests are protected.

He said there should be no compromise in protecting the B40 workers, most of whom depend on daily or low monthly wages and were paid minimum salaries.

Ignoring this group, he warned, would result in serious social implications.

“The government should ensure SMEs do not forsake these workers and some SMEs keep riches for themselves,” he said.

Any attempt by unscrupulous employers to use this aid to maintain their expensive lifestyles like high salaries, entertainment and housing allowances must be stopped, he said.

Solomon said it has been reported that some employers have already forced workers under duress to apply for voluntary retrenchment, wage cuts and leave, which disregard the government’s directives.

He said the government must, through the human resources ministry, draw up emergency employment regulations to prevent retrenchment, wage cuts and forced annual leave during the next one year.

He also urged Putrajaya to remove the RM4,000 monthly wage ceiling for workers to apply for the RM600 per month subsidy.

“Even M40 workers earning between RM4,000 and RM8,000 struggle in cities like Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Penang. These urban poor do not fall into this category and thus should qualify for the aid,” he said.