(Updated 5:12pm, 29 Jan 2009)
KUALA LUMPUR, 29 Jan 2009: The government will allow companies and factories to shorten their operations to three days a week, provided workers were agreeable to the move, Labour director-general Datuk Ismail Abdul Rahim said today.
He said the government’s main concern was to ensure minimal job loss and that companies continue to operate, albeit on a low gear.
He said it was necessary for employers to get the consent of the workers because if working days were reduced, workers would get less pay.
“It is the duty of the department to ensure that workers were adequately protected and at the same time, companies did not lose out,” Ismail told Bernama.
Ismail felt that it would be ideal if employers, workers and their unions could work together for their mutual good and the good of the nation.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) was of the view that it was better for the workers to take a temporary pay cut than to lose their job.
“As employers, we do not want to lose our employees and would do our best to retain as many as possible,” assured MEF executive director Shamsuddin Bardan.
“However, economic conditions are such that we sometimes have no choice but to cut back on employment to keep afloat,” he said.
Since 1 Jan, about 10,000 workers have lost their jobs in the country and more are expected to face the axe if the economic situation did not change for the better, said Shamsuddin.
He added that although the United States and Europe were the most affected by the global economic crisis, Malaysia would not be spared either, as it was a major trading nation and depended a lot on exports to these markets.
Last week, Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S Subramaniam announced that almost 45,000 workers, mostly in the electronic sector, would be laid off.
Another 7,000 workers have been retrenched and they would be assisted by the government.
The government had proposed that these retrenched workers be paid RM500 monthly while waiting for a new job. They might also get an offer to be retrained and acquire new skills or improve on their existing skills.
However, according to Ismail, the mechanics of the payment and training was still being worked out.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has pledged full cooperation with the government and employers to ride over these difficult times.
Secretary-general G Rajasegaran said all affiliates had been informed to extend cooperation and maintain industrial harmony in their respective workplaces.
Meanwhile, Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Noraini Ahmad advised workers who were aware their companies were folding up or facing imminent retrenchment to contact the ministry for assistance.
She said, if the ministry was informed that some companies were about to fold up, its Labour Department would look for jobs in other companies by placing the names of the soon-to-be-affected workers in its Workers Mini Carnival programme.
“We will also re-train workers who have been retrenched and give them RM500 each in the duration of their training while waiting for new jobs,” she told reporters after handing over a RM1,500 cheque for funeral arrangements to Siti Mariam Rosidi at her house in Kuchai Entrepreneur Park here.
Siti Mariam’s husband, Bank Negara employee Noor Azhar Hassan, 30, died in a road accident on 22 Jan. — Bernama