He said that almost 2.5% could be considered as ‘floating labour force’, as some of them moved between jobs and at some point in time, had employment.
He said with a 2.9% unemployment figure, Penang still records one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.
“As for retrenchment, we do not have a figure on it but it does happen and seems to be part and parcel of the economic situation that we are facing.
“Retrenchment occurs from time to time, depending on industries, but I think it mostly happens within the electronics industry.”
Ramasamy said presently, more and more jobseekers were going for government-linked companies (GLCs) in Penang.
“More than 95% of those who went for interviews at GLCs in Penang are already employed and they are simply looking for better jobs, and many of them are from the private sector.
“Some wanted to come over for stability, while some wanted to see if they could get better remuneration, but whether they can carry out the job afterwards, is another thing.
“This is especially so when we advertise positions under the two city councils, hundreds if not thousands, would apply for assistant positions.
“But this only means many people applied, and it does not indicate anything, as they may have applied for jobs in other states as well,” he said in a press conference after attending the 8th Employment Law Forum.
The forum, organised by the Penang Human Resources Liaison Committee at Evergreen Laurel Hotel recently, was attended by over 200 participants.
The forum aimed at providing exposure to current issues relating to employment laws and to receive feedback through dialogues between industry players and employees in Penang.
Penang Human Resources Liaison Committee chairman Datuk Ajit Singh Jessy said the forum covered issues of current interest and the rapid changes that are taking place in the industry of employment.
“Basically we are trying to provide updates on the latest amendments in law, so we invited speakers who are experienced in their particular areas to speak.
“This is because the guests are from companies and unions in various organisations and the majority of them present are managing directors, general managers and human resource managers.
“The two speakers that we invited spoke about changes to the Employment Act 1955 and Industrial Relations Act 1967,” he said in his speech.
Ramasamy, in his keynote address at the forum, said the state hoped that the industry recognised the rights of workers to form unions that would lead to increased workers’ productivity.
“I think in any developed country, or in our case, moving towards a developed country, we have to pay attention to labour.
“This is especially so in labour welfare and well-being.
“If you look at developed countries like Norway, Sweden, Finland, they have very high levels of unionisation.
“So, I think the degree of unionisation goes along with improvements in welfare and well-being of labour.
“To me, trade unions should be formed.
“Here, we have the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC), and I firmly believe that we need to have a union to protect the rights of workers.
“Unionisation is part of the democratisation of society and we are talking about half the population of workers being workers.”
He said that although there were 15 to 16 million workers in Malaysia, there were only 6% of unions.
“This could be due to multiple reasons, as employees never liked unions as they are afraid that with unions, there will be endless disputes.
“But we need to see more unions, it is a process.
“We have to liberalise and register unions, not reject them. We have to remove repressive mechanisms available to the employees and state.
“I think the country’s labour sector has a long way to go, and we expect a responsible and dedicated labour leadership both in the private and public sector.
“We also hope that MTUC can play an important role, irrespective of whatever criticisms that they face, as they are a union for the workers,” he added.
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