Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Half a million at risk of losing jobs, MEF warns in latest call against lockdown

It urges Putrajaya to review the thresholds for transition in the National Recovery Plan to speed up the shift to later phases during which non-essential sectors will be allowed to open.

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The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) has called for an acceleration in transition between phases for Putrajaya’s National Recovery Plan (NRP), warning that some 500,000 employees in non-essential sectors could otherwise be out of a job as the prolonged lockdown continues to ravage the economy.

In a statement, MEF president Syed Hussain Syed Husman referred to data from the Federation of Malaysian Fashion, Textiles and Apparels estimating that those in such industries were losing RM163 million per day.

“The fashion, textile and apparel businesses contributed RM27 billion in export value in 2019 and RM21 billion in 2020 but 15% of companies ceased operations in 2020 while more than 30% are now on the verge of collapse due to lack of cash flow and future uncertainties,” he said.

Adding that four foreign-owned multinational textile and apparel factories had shut down operations in Malaysia and retrenched about 6,000 workers last year, he said this had caused a chain reaction for many local SME manufacturers within the supply chain.

“The supply chain of the fashion, textile and apparel industries employ about 500,000 employees, and the thought that all the 500,000 employees risk losing their jobs due to the prolonged lockdown is horrific,” he said.

According to the NRP, these sectors will be allowed to resume operations in Phase Three. But Syed Hussain said given the various setbacks, it might take longer to reach this phase than expected.

“We propose that the NRP be accelerated to Phase Three and Four with employers and the people paying more attention to biosafety, implementing the necessary safeguards, and complying strictly with established standards on health, safety, hygiene and in particular, air quality,” he said.

He said other non-essential sectors such as retail, tourism, hotels and services had also been severely affected by the numerous lockdowns.

“We fear that the situation will worsen if these non-essential sectors are forced to remain closed during Phase One and Two of the NRP, and we urge the government to urgently review the NRP threshold set by the National Security Council to accelerate the NRP to Phase Three and Four without delay.”

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