The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has called for the urgent set-up of an Emergency Action Committee (EAC) to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, which it says is having an impact on workers’ health and livelihood.

MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon said a new bigger package is clearly needed and the EAC proposal could ensure more comprehensive assistance to the affected economic sectors and the workers involved. “MTUC is worried that companies such as Malaysia Airlines and Malindo Air are urging their workers to go on no-pay leave as countries across the globe impose wide-ranging travel restrictions,” he said in a statement today. Solomon said besides the aviation and tourism sectors, the COVID-19 pandemic has also crippled international trade and rocked markets both in Malaysia and globally, with stock prices and bond yields plunging.

Meanwhile, MTUC proposes four guidelines to be incorporated in the new stimulus package to ensure the welfare and livelihood of workers in cushioning the impact of COVID-19. “The guidelines are banks to defer housing loan, study loan, and vehicle loan installments without imposing any penalties to all those in B40 and M40 group for at least six months. All welfare recipients including the Social Security Organisation (Socso) must be given a one-off payment of RM500. “All pensioners within the B40 and M40 are also given a one-off payment of RM500 and all workers earning salaries below RM4,000 to be given RM1,000 as one-off,” he said.

Malaysia Airlines yesterday announced that it is offering voluntary unpaid leave to all its 13,000 employees effective from this month. The national carrier said such scheme was also offered to staff of its parent Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) and subsidiaries including MAB Kargo, MAB Engineering, Firefly and MASwings. A Malaysian airline spokesman said the move was in line with the airline’s reduced operations due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “To date Malaysia Airlines has cancelled more than 2,000 flights up to April due to travel restrictions imposed by countries within our network,” he added.

Aviation experts said the overall travel suspension from or to China caused by the pandemic had been adversely impacting Asian airlines’ yields and profitability, which were already depressed. Several markets in Asia had been suffering from overcapacity and “irrational” levels of competition, they added.


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