Take slight pay cuts, property sector workers urged

Bad times for the construction sector will affect many of the 1.4 million workers in the industry, says Rehda.

PETALING JAYA: An association of property developers has urged workers in the construction industry to accept pay cuts to help the companies employing them stay afloat.

Speaking to FMT, Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) president Soam Heng Choon said he feared that the next nine to 12 months would be tough for the industry and employers might have to resort to asking their employees to accept “slight” reductions in wages.

He said he expected the economy to remain in the doldrums for some time after the movement control order (MCO) is lifted and people would be reluctant to buy properties for fear of an uncertain future.

He said workers would be helping themselves in the long run if they help their companies survive by accepting pay cuts.

Soam also said developers were going back to the drawing board to plan for the industry’s future.

He urged Putrajaya to help construction companies survive by waiving land premiums, quit rent and assessment rates for at least a year.

He said bad times for the construction sector would affect not only many of the 1.4 million workers in the industry but also those working in the professions and in such sectors as the cement, steel and transportation industries.

In all, he added, about 140 industries were doing business with companies engaged in construction.

He also asked Putrajaya to launch attractive home ownership campaigns to stimulate the industry.

Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents President Lim Boon Ping said the MCO had been tough on property agents because they could not organise the viewing of properties by prospective buyers.

He also said agents had been receiving calls from property owners who were keen on selling them.

“There will be more motivated sellers in the market,” he added.

Property valuer Huan Cheng Kee told FMT he expected the prices of apartments to drop because of a “massive oversupply”.

“The market has been slow since February,” he said.

Economist Hoo Ke Ping said banks could face repayment problems after the loan moratorium ends in September.

He said the problems would come from borrowers earning salaries of RM4,000 a month because they are not covered by any of the government’s rescue packages.