The 2003 May Day tomorrow should serve as an occasion for all Malaysians whether political leaders, trade unions leaders and all workers in the country to reflex and to give some serious thought of how the country can overcome the challenges ahead rather than just to spend it as just another public holiday
DAPSY May Day Message
by Loke Siew Fook
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): May Day this year should symbolize a great deal of challenges facing the workers in the country. The aftermath of the War in Iraq, the health and economic impact of the SARS epidemic and a gloomy global economy outlooks will definitely create a lot of challenges to the Malaysian economy in the months and years to come.
The most vulnerable group as a result of economic uncertainties will be the workers. All workers in the country whether wage earners, plantation workers, construction labor, blue collar workers or even white collar workers will be affected if the situation get worse. The last thing that we would want to see is retrenchment of workers in any sectors.
The recent announcement of a minimum monthly wage of RM350 for rubber estate workers is nothing but shameful. Trade union leaders in the country must voice their disgusts and angers as after a few decades of struggles for minimum wage, the government is only prepared to agree to a RM350 minimum wage. This shows that the government is not serious at all to solve the socio-economic problems faced by the estate workers particularly among the Indian community. If their monthly income is not raised, the conditions of the poor Indian estate workers will never improve and the many social problems affecting Indian youth in the country will not be solved.
Therefore, the Ministry of Human Resources must not look at the minimum wage issue for the estate workers just from the productivity and income point of view but the larger picture concerning the well being of the community and the many socio-economic repercussions emerged from it.
The lowest dividend in 40 years given to EPF contributors at 4.25% must serve as a wake-up reminder for all EPF contributors comprising 10.3 million workers in Malaysia to fully demand for more accountability, transparency and responsibility from EPF Board to safeguard their hard-earned life saving and safety net for their retirement age. DAPSY urges the government to reform the many weaknesses in the EPF ie, the non-transparent decisions makings of the Investment Panel, the mal-function of the EPF Board and the issue of wastages, mismanagement and imprudent expenditures in the EPF’s overall operations. It is a mockery that the EPF Board has a lesser degree of decision making powers than the Investment Panel in the managing of the funds totaling RM203 billion and growing every month.
Finally, DAPSY urges the government to immediately announce the contingency economic plans and stimulus package which is long overdue to cushion the economic effects of the SARS outbreak which has costs billions of ringgit to the many sectors in Malaysian economy particularly in tourism, airlines, services and other related sectors. The government has a duty to protect the interest and well being of all workers in the country and it should keep retrenchment to the lowest level possible.
* Loke Siew Fook, DAPSY National Secretary and DAP Negeri Sembilan State Secretary