MTUC: Govt's Short-Term Economic Recovery Plan must solve Malaysia’s growing unemployment rate

People queue up outside a Mydin hypermarket during the conditional movement control order in Shah Alam on May 6, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
People queue up outside a Mydin hypermarket during the conditional movement control order in Shah Alam on May 6, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, June 3 — The Malaysian Trade Unions Congress (MTUC) today urged the government to come up with a strong, viable and sustainable plan to address the woes of workers in Malaysia.

The umbrella union body said when Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announces the Short-Term Economic Recovery Plan for the country later this month, there must be an effective game plan to mitigate the growing unemployment rate and deep salary cuts which have left thousands of workers in a lurch.

MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon said while Muhyiddin has time and again emphasised that “no one will be left behind” in all his messages to the rakyat, workers, both locals and migrants, have continued to suffer the most during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The government must shed conventional methods such as dishing out one-off cash handouts and instead introduce measures that provide a sustainable safety net for workers.

“The government must undertake a comprehensive review of the measures taken under the Prihatin packages to help workers. Putrajaya must acknowledge that its move to have poor workers dip into their already meager EPF savings for household expenses is not only counter-productive but also an act of cruelty and injustice perpetrated on them,” he said.

He said the government must find a more effective way to keep workers at their jobs, shield them from unfair pay cuts and reduce their household expenses.

“For instance, the six-month moratorium for housing and car loans by financial institutions has been a big help to workers. MTUC strongly calls on the Prime Minister to extend the moratorium by another six months. This move will greatly benefit thousands of workers who have either lost their jobs or been forced to take massive pay cuts,” he said.

MTUC suggested that the government improve the wage subsidy scheme as many workers are still being laid off as employers view retrenchments as a quick fix to their problems.

“The government must expand the wage subsidy scheme to cover workers earning a salary of more than RM4,000 a month. This will help to keep more workers, especially locals, at their jobs.”

Soloman said, as reported by the latest survey conducted by market research company Ipsos, unemployment has now emerged as the biggest worry for Malaysians.

“The survey found that unemployment fears had increased by 12 per cent among respondents to 51 per cent from a year ago. The government should worry about this more than any other issues,” he said.

Yesterday, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said the Short-Term Economic Recovery Plan for the June to December 2020 period will be launched by Muhyiddin this month.

He said the plan would focus on three key objectives, namely to empower people, propel businesses and stimulate the economy.

In drafting this plan, Tengku Zafrul said the government’s approach was based on four characteristics: being agile and dynamic, prioritising public-private sector cooperation, ensuring comprehensive communication by upholding transparency and openness, as well as using a data-based approach.

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