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KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 — The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) said today funds meant for workers' social protection and retirement savings should not be used to gain political mileage, following a senior minister’s statement that the Social Security Organisation (Sosco) will pay for Covid-19 screening of employees.
MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon claimed that the government seemed to have lost sight of the fact that Socso is a workers’ compensation fund that is run with monthly contributions from both workers and employers.
“MTUC is aghast with the minister’s statement that Socso will pick up the tab for the compulsory screening which will cost millions of ringgit and further deplete Socso dwindling coffers.
“By using Socso funds for mandatory Covid-19 screening of workers, this government is blatantly treating Socso as its cash cow to fund pro-employers policies.
“The workers’ money is being spent without any consideration that this fund is meant for workers’ social protection,” he said in a statement here.
He said it was shocking that the government appears to have no qualms about dipping into the hard-earned savings of poor workers to fund Covid-19 screenings which will take the burden off employers that will no longer have to pay for the screenings of their own employees.
Yesterday, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said the International Trade and Industry Ministry will collaborate with the Human Resources Ministry through Sosco to oversee the Covid-19 screenings that all workers of companies allowed to operate are required to undergo as a safety measure.
He also said Socso would bear the cost of the screening.
Calling the move blatantly “unfair and lopsided”, Solomon said those who stand to benefit most at the expense of workers will be Socso-appointed private clinics and the employers themselves.
“Being the workers’ representatives, we vehemently oppose this decision which is obviously made in the interest of the employers and not the poor workers who make the mandatory contribution for this fund from their blood, sweat and tears,” he added.
He then said Azmin must justify his reasons for exempting employers from paying for their workers’ Covid-19 screenings, despite fully agreeing with the minister’s statement on the mandatory requirement.
He also questioned the apparent double standard shown by the government, claiming that it was only logical that employers should pay if they are keen to resume operations.
Solomon also claimed that Socso funds were depleting as the government’s compulsory workplace insurance scheme was reeling from some bad investments amounting to billions in investments linked to the purchase of prime land and IT systems which have not yielded any returns for several years.
“All these extravagant and misguided investments have resulted in the depletion of Socso funds and the long term welfare of workers is at risk of being compromised. The strain on Socso coffers will worsen if workers contributions are now used for Covid-19 mandatory screenings of workers as proposed by the government,” he said.