Market traders all for rewarding loyal workers

Lee’s 10 local workers have EPF and Socso because they work for him full-time. — Photos: SIA HONG KIAU/The Star

TRADERS at Pasar Borong Kuala Lumpur are willing to offer benefits to Malaysian workers if they are committed.

Kuala Lumpur Vegetable Wholesale Association vice-president Lee Chee Keong, who operates a stall there, said loyal staff were especially deserving of these benefits.

He was commenting on an earlier news report citing that benefits such as Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Social Security Organisation (Socso) and medical coverage for Malaysian workers would not only attract more applicants but also encourage higher staff retention.

“I have 10 local workers and they all have EPF and Socso because they work for me full-time, ” said Lee.

He said that since 95% of the wholesale market was now staffed by Malaysians, this was a good time to implement these benefits. However, he said such benefits should only be accorded to long-term workers who had undergone a three-month probation.

“It is not possible to offer the same benefits to temporary workers as we don’t know how long they intend to work, ” he reasoned.

At present, salary for local general workers are from RM80 to RM100 per day, for working hours of between 11.30am and 6pm.

The rate for overtime is between RM10 and RM20 but it is not common unless there is late supply of vegetables due to unforeseen circumstances. Before the movement control order (MCO), the wage offered to part-time foreign workers was RM50 to RM60.

The usual arrangement for general workers is to work on a daily wage basis. If they intend to take a day off, they must give notice a day in advance.

Cheong says traders need time to adjust to the current requirement to hire only Malaysians.Cheong says traders need time to adjust to the current requirement to hire only Malaysians.

Vegetable sellers Chong Weng Siang and Cheong Kah Wai, who had fully relied on foreign workers before the MCO, said traders would need time to adjust to the current requirement to hire only Malaysians.

The cousins, who help in the family business, said they now had five local employees to run their stalls.

“The workers have yet to pass the three-month probationary period.

“Even if they can make it, we need to see if our business is big enough to afford full-time staff, ” they said.

Chong and Cheong said one benefit they were able to offer was the Covid-19 test for new hire as it was required by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

However, Chong who had paid RM400 to get a Malaysian applicant tested at a private hospital, was disappointed when the new employee failed to show up for work the next day.

He said he was extra wary now when it came to screening new applicants.

Fruit seller Hew Chin Soon said it was only fair that Malaysian workers perform according to expectations if they wanted benefits.

Employers must also familiarise themselves with the necessary knowledge to give out such benefits, he said.

“Mindsets will have to change.

“At this point, there are many stories of local general workers missing work days because the job is hard, as there is a lot of heavy lifting involved.

“Some have even shown up at work intoxicated or high on illegal substances.

“If they want benefits, they cannot continue to behave like this, ” said Hew.

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