KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) Sarawak division has conveyed concerns on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic to the economy.
In a statement, MTUC Sarawak chairman Mohd Ibrahim Hamid said there would be negative consequences and it would be very challenging for businesses to pick up after the Movement Control Order (MCO) is lifted.
"Companies will close down or reduce operations, consequently retrenching workers. We expect hundreds of thousands to lose their jobs or be forced to take unpaid leave or salary cuts.
"Workers in Malaysia will not have much to celebrate on Labour Day this year. Since the Employment Insurance Scheme was implemented only in 2018, the benefits are minimal with an average of only half a month's salary for six months.
He added the government has yet to decide on reducing the country's dependence on foreign labour.
Ibrahim also added that up to 80 per cent of workers in timber and plantation industries are foreign workers while tens of thousands of Sarawakians had to leave their families to work in Singapore, Johor, KL and Penang.
"Our country needs to improve labour productivity with high-value and high-skilled jobs but this will remain a dream if there is no incentive for employers to invest in technology and modern production methods.
"Government, workers and trade unions must take this opportunity to push for changes and embrace international labour standards and practices. This will facilitate greater empowerment of workers and recognition of trade unions to enable them to bargain for fair wages.
"The current laws make it easier for employers to sack workers and stifle trade unions since there are less than three per cent of workers in the private sector who are members of trade unions. As a result, collective bargaining is nothing more than collective begging.
MTUC Sarawak urged Malaysians to eliminate corruption in all its forms, at all levels. It undermines the implementation of government policies and threatens effective, transparent and fair enforcement.
Source: New Straits Times