Screening of workers still the primary concern

PETALING JAYA: Although they welcome the extension of the conditional movement control order (MCO), manufacturers and workers group say their primary concern is the screening of workers, especially foreigners.

Since Covid-19 is a significant health risk, they think it is pragmatic to have workers who feel safe to return to work as sectors are being allowed to operate in stages.

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said all employers should get all of their employees screened for the virus.

“The government must ensure that there are sufficient rapid test kits for all the approved clinics to carry out the screening of workers.

“The number of laboratories and hospitals recognised by the Health Ministry needs to be expanded and included in Socso’s Prihatin Screening Programme to allow more workers to be screened quickly,” he said, referring to the Social Security Organisation’s free Covid-19 screening programme for registered workers, including foreign ones.

Soh said the decision to extend the conditional MCO until June 9 was a step in the right direction of prioritising public health while allowing most business activities to resume.

He called on manufacturers to implement business continuity planning, including exploring and expanding flexible work arrangements, maintaining social distancing and other policies that allowed people to work remotely and safely.

“The operations of sectors and businesses under the conditional MCO will continue to be governed by the respective standard operating procedure and precautionary measures.

“The business community, in particular, must continue to strictly adhere to these requirements to ensure that operations are conducted in a safe and controlled manner,” he said.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress president Datuk Abdul Halim Mansor said the issue of the required screening for all local workforce returning to work was not addressed in Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s speech yesterday.

“Has it been done by all the employers? It is also worrying if the same screening made compulsory for all foreign workers has been done by the employers,” he said.

Citing the recent emergence of a new cluster among foreign workers and the enhanced MCO in the area surrounding the Jalan Othman market here, he said the cases showed that stringent measures were needed to fight the pandemic.

“Employers should not object and think it is not necessary to screen their foreign workers for the virus, giving excuses such as high cost.

“Such an attitude is regrettable,” he said, adding that there were over three million foreign workers who had been legally brought in by industries based on need.

Abdul Halim noted that the Prime Minister should emphasise to employers that they should bear the cost of the swab test for all foreign workers, especially those who did not contribute to Socso.

“Employers’ cooperation has been lukewarm so far. Perhaps the authority can have a daily update on the number of employers who have sent their foreign workers for the swab test to keep track of whether they adhere to the rules and regulations,” he said.

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