SPCAAM criticizes MEF's rejection of festival aid for workers

Workers' rights group called for 1-month mandated bonus as festival aid

SPCAAM criticizes MEF's rejection of festival aid for workers

The Social Protection Contributors Advisory Association Malaysia (SPCAAM) has criticised the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) following its rejection of a proposal for a one-month mandated bonus as a festival aid for employees, as reported in an article by FMT.

SPCAAM had recently urged the government to make employers provide their employees with at least one month’s salary to serve as festival aid, citing a study by EPF which found that the money people in the Klang Valley typically spent for annual social and festive activities were almost as much as an entire month’s salary.

“Many companies that operate here also operate in Indonesia, including government-linked companies (GLCs), and are paying one month’s salary to workers in Indonesia [for this purpose],” said J Solomon, SPCAAM’s president, in the report.

The workers’ rights group president pointed out how the banks’ similar aid for their employees in 2023 had been retracted was surprising and disconcerting as doing so undermined the basic benefits of employees.

They further asserted in FMT that safeguarding the rights of workers to have a fulfilling life involved the celebration of culture without being burdened by financial strain.

Pandemic ‘no excuse’ for rejecting proposal

Meanwhile, MEF president Syed Hussain Syed Husman had stated that the proposal will put a financial burden on employers as the current state of the markets have left them struggling, adding that the workers’ rights group should understand that businesses were not banks, according to Free Malaysia Today.

In response to this, the SPCAAM said that businesses should not use the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse for them to reject the proposal. The organisation’s adviser, Callistus Antony D’Angelus, further asserted that employers who cannot afford to provide their employees with a living wage should not be in business in the first place.

“MEF’s claim that businesses have not recovered from the pandemic, if true, points towards the inability of business leaders in Malaysia to run their businesses,” said D’Angelus in FMT.

“I am sure that many businesses would want to fulfil their social responsibilities by ensuring that their workers, in particular those at the bottom of the wage hierarchy, are paid a fair and decent wage,” he said further.

The SPCAAM adviser stated that a compromise that the government can put into consideration is to prioritise mandating the proposal of a one-month bonus to employers whose businesses had the financial capacity to do so.

“Businesses raking in profits in the tens of millions of ringgit cannot claim they don’t have the capacity to pay,” said D’Angelus.

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