MTUC demands BNM publish list of SME aid recipients after claims of workers fired emerge

MTUC today called on Bank Negara to publicise the list of firms granted financial Covid-19 aid. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
MTUC today called on Bank Negara to publicise the list of firms granted financial Covid-19 aid. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — The Malaysian Trade Unions Congress (MTUC) today called on Bank Negara to publicise the list of firms granted financial Covid-19 aid, following claims that workers were still laid off or had their pay cut despite receiving help.

The umbrella union body said transparency is crucial after reports surfaced that workers have still been retrenched or forced to take pay cuts by employers who benefited from government aid, such as the RM10 billion Special Relief Fund meant for small and medium enterprises.

“The RM10 billion is a massive use of public money to help the private sector mitigate the current crisis,” it said in a statement.

“Therefore, there is a great need for the government to be absolutely transparent and make public the list of recipients with a detailed breakdown of the total amount received by them.”

Making the list public could facilitate a two-way accountability where workers will know if their employers were granted the SRF and the value of assistance, the union body said.

The information is vital for workers who were laid off or forced to take pay cuts despite their employers being given the financial assistance should they seek legal recourse.

Up to RM10 billion had been given out to some 9,000 SMEs since the special relief facility (SRF) was made available on March 6, according to BNM. 

The fund was part of the RM100 billion allocation in grants, loans and wage subsidies announced under the RM260 billion Prihatin stimulus package aimed to keep the sector from tanking and prevent mass layoffs. 

BNM added RM5 billion to the original RM5 billion in SRF following overwhelming demand to keep these SMEs afloat and save about 200,000 jobs.

But numerous reports have surfaced since claiming workers were still forced to take pay cuts or retrenched arbitrarily by employers which benefited from the government aid packages such as the SRF. 

MTUC said the onus is on the government to ensure these funds are not misused at a time when everyone is chipping in to make sure workers are kept in employment.

“The government must ensure the billions of ringgit in financial assistance achieves its core objective of ensuring workers keep their jobs,” it said. 

“As such making public the list of SRF recipients will go a long way to ensure such accountability from employers in SMEs.”

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