Thursday, April 09, 2020

Salary Deduction and Unpaid Leave Should not be Made an Option during Lockdown(LLRC)

Press Statement by Labour Law Reform Coalition on 8 April 2020 in Shah Alam
Salary Deduction and Unpaid Leave Should not be Made an Option during Lockdown
Labour Law Reform Coalition welcomes the announcement of the government on 6 April 2020 that an additional RM10 billion stimulus package would be allocated to support micro, small and medium enterprises, the total amount of wage subsidy has been substantially increased from RM5.9 billion to RM13.8 billion.
However, we have grave concern that the Prime Minister, during the announcement, said that the government encouraged “negotiations between employers and employees on their terms of employment, including an option for salary deductions and unpaid leave during the MCO.”
This statement will unwittingly open a floodgate for employers to exploit Malaysian workers by denying paid leave during the lockdown period. With tremendous financial support by the government at the expense of tax payers’ hard-earned money, it is unreasonable if companies cut workers’ wages or ask them to go for unpaid leave.
In addition, given the fact that only 4 per cent of private sector workers were unionized in the country, most of the workplaces do not have legally sanctioned bargaining units, that is, trade unions. Hence, the proposal is unpractical and ineffective as the precondition of collective bargaining does not exist. The announcement will be easily manipulated by employers to their advantage.
We urge the government to grab the opportunity to require companies to establish trade unions as a precondition of receiving government fund. This measure not only will realize collective bargaining in accordance to the financial situation of the company, but also encourage industrial harmony in the post-lockdown period which is full of uncertainty for businesses and working classes.
Nadesan Gopalkishnam & Irene Xavier
Labour Law Reform Coalition

Note : Labour Law Reform Coalition is endorsed by 58 Trade Unions from various sectors and worker organisations. The group started in June 2018 to initiate discussion on labour law reform bases on ILO’s decent work framework. The coalition had submitted proposals of reforming Employment Act 1955, Trade Union Act 1959 and Industrial Relations Act 1967 in January and May 2019 respectively.

Nadesan Gopalkishnam is the General Secretary of National Union of Transport, Equipment and Allied Industry Workers (NUTEAIW), he is the immediate past Secretary-General of Malaysian Trade Union Congress. Irene Xavier is a veteran social activist who founded Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor, she has been fighting for the rights of women worker for decades.

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