WITH rising COVID-19 cases and many flouting the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for various reasons, a union leader and lawmaker urged the Government to get creative to resolve the problem.
“We need a full-fledged Government intervention to deal with the pandemic, following through with broad ideas, especially when it comes to testing.
“For those contributing to the Social Security Organisation (Socso), compel the latter to fund swab tests for both working in the formal and informal sectors,” Klang MP Charles Santiago told FocusM.
He said the Government should realise not everyone contributes to Socso such as those working in the informal sectors like cleaners, drivers and security guards but need to get tested as well to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Offering several solutions, Santiago said the first thing the Government should do is to cap the price of COVID-19 testing kits to make it affordable to all.
“The Government need not even use Emergency powers to cap COVID-19 test kit prices. The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry can just add them into the price control list.
“This will ensure no one takes an advantage out of the pandemic,” he remarked.
Another way, he added, was to grant tax deduction to those who do COVID-19 tests, adding it would also encourage the public to cooperate with the authorities to stem the rise of the pandemic.
“If employers pay for their workers’ tests, then let the former enjoy tax deductions. Similarly, if an individual pays for it, then offer tax deductions to them, “Santiago opined.
However, the DAP leader said that as far as migrant workers are concerned, documented or otherwise, the Government would have to foot the bill for it.
“But first, offer undocumented migrant workers and their employers temporary amnesty so that they will come out and cooperate with us,” Santiago pointed out.
Testing is imminent
Touching on the matter, UNI-Malaysia Labour Centre (UNI-MLC) told FocusM that employers must cooperate with the authorities and alert public health authorities if there is an outbreak at their premises.
“This is a global crisis and we’re dealing with a deadly disease. Everyone must cooperate and it’s no longer an option. Testing must be made mandatory to close contacts of those have contracted COVID-19,” said its president Datuk Mohamed Shafie BP Mammal.
The union leader alleged that he had received complaints that several employers are covering up outbreak cases, adding the latter even refused to pay for COVID-19 testing for close contacts.
In this regard, Shafie urged the Government to enforce SOP strictly and throw the book at employers who downplay outbreak cases at their premises.
“Employers will always try to trivialise testing and quarantine because they want their staff to be present at work.
“Some of these companies even have occupational safety and health units but I’m not sure what are they doing? Maybe, the management is not taking their advice seriously,” he opined.
Training his guns at the Human Resources (MOHR) and Health Ministries (MOH), Shafie said both ministries should come up with new ideas on how to deal with such issues as public confidence is low now.
“The Human Resources Minister said that he will launch an app where employees can file complaints directly to the ministry without having their details leaked. Where is it now?
“Instead of waiting for the vaccines to the work for us, get everyone’s cooperation first,” he added. – Feb 2, 2021.