Monday, February 16, 2015


12 February 2015 
Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) urges the government to immediately put in place an emergency relief scheme for the suddenly unemployed as they seek new employment. Like the recent floods, unemployment can also come suddenly and unexpectedly, and affected workers and their families will need some emergency help to survive the situation and get back on their feet.

The worker in Malaysia, if he/she were to lose their job, requires immediate emergency financial assistance whilst he looks for another employment. Today, the worker is burdened with monthly financial obligations like food, clothing, basic amenities (water, electricity, sewage bills, telecommunication and television), healthcare, transportation and children’s education. Additionally, most workers have monthly financial obligations to make payments towards home and car loans.

Due to the lack of a good, efficient and affordable public transport system in most parts of Malaysia, the worker has been forced into having to purchase a car, whereby on an average this entails an average monthly payment of RM500 to the loan provider. Likewise, with the Malaysian government’s push for workers to buy their own homes, many have bought houses and this too means monthly loan payments. Many workers also buy furniture and household appliances through hire-purchase schemes.

As such, if a worker is suddenly wrongfully dismissed, it creates great financial problems to the worker and their families, and there is an urgent need to put in place an emergency unemployment assistance scheme as is now present in many countries, including neighbouring Thailand. This assistance would be temporary in nature, lasting possibly for a period of maybe not more than 6 -12 months, being the time required for the out of job worker to find a suitable new employment. Without such emergency financial assistance, the unemployed can very easily slide into abject poverty – losing their home, having their car towed away, their furniture and household appliance re-possessed.

The Thailand’s Unemployment Assistance program which has been operational since 2004, provides ‘for unemployment resulted from termination of employment or laid-off, the worker will receive 50% of wages for not more than 180 days within 1 year’. There were of course conditions that the said applicant be ready to make all necessary efforts to find employment, and even undergo whatever required skills training.

In Malaysia, reasonably such monthly assistance could be 50% of wages or RM1,000, whichever the higher. There is already speculation that Malaysia maybe facing difficult time, and there is a possibility that some workers may be out of a job.

MTUC joins the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) in calling on employers not to dismiss their employees following the expected slowdown in economic growth this year (Bernama, 26/1/2015), and reiterates the importance of trade unions especially in difficult times. Trade Unions would be able to sit down with employers and work out concrete solutions that will benefit both worker and employer whist manoeuvring turbulent periods.

To ensure workers are kept employed, the Malaysian government now provides financial assistance to companies to conduct trainings during slow periods so that workers will continue to be in employment. This may work in some cases but not all – as we still see workers being terminated and retrenched, and these need urgent temporary financial assistance immediately for the wellbeing of these workers and their families.

This assistance can reliably only come from the government, and it is proposed that this is done through SOCSO/PERKESO. The employer, being mostly companies, is unreliable because many just end up with no monies in their coffers even to pay out back-wages or even termination benefits.

MTUC urges that Malaysia immediately put in place this necessary social protection for workers that find themselves suddenly with no employment and income, will prevent these workers and their families from sliding down the slippery slope of poverty.

N. Gopal Kishnam
Secretary General

Source: MTUC Website

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