THE Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) Penang division has urged the Federal Government to amend the Employment Act 1955 to enable the increase in maternity leave from 60 days to 90 days in the private sector.
MTUC Penang secretary K. Veeriah said while the announcement at the Budget 2018 tabling on Friday was laudable, the relevant provisions of the Employment Act 1955 still remained at 60 days.
“The Budget ought to come with an amendment to the Act,” he said in a statement on Saturday.
Veeriah also said there should be a comprehensive review on existing labour legislations to improve the conditions of private sector workers.
“Nobody can deny that the real engine of economic growth is from the contribution of workers in the manufacturing sector.
“However, benefits such as the cost of living allowance (Cola), where civil servants are paid RM300, does not apply to the private sector as employers are not compelled to do so,” he said.
Penang Hindu Association deputy president P. Murugiah said the Budget 2018 did not cater to those who fall under the lower income bracket.
“Civil servants will benefit from the special payment of RM1,500. However, those working in the private sector will not benefit much.
“The subsidy for cooking oil and flour, although welcomed, should benefit the right parties.
“Only big timers like restaurants, hotels, and food manufacturers stand to benefit as they go directly to the wholesalers as well as clear out shelves at the supermarkets.
“The government needs to ensure that the poor people benefit from the subsidy, not businesses,” he said.
Murugiah also said that although the agriculture sector received a huge subsidy, it would not benefit the public.
“The price of fruits has been increasing.
“Although exporting fruits does benefit the economy, locals do not get to enjoy Malaysian fruits as they have become expensive.
“The high quality local fruits are exported and only the remainder sold to us.
“I urge the government to investigate the matter and see if Malaysians as a whole will actually benefit from the subsidy,” he said.
It was announced that a RM3.9bil allocation would be spent to subsidise various food items including cooking gas, flour, cooking oil, other than third-party expenses such as power supply and toll.
The agriculture sector received a whopping RM6.5bil, the first time such a high amount has been set aside for the sector.
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