MTUC: Employers, trade unions need to cooperate to tackle Covid-19 outbreak

Passengers wear masks in a Light Rail Transit train in Kuala Lumpur January 31, 2020. — Reuters pic
Passengers wear masks in a Light Rail Transit train in Kuala Lumpur January 31, 2020. — Reuters pic

PETALING JAYA, Feb 13 ― There is an urgent need for employers and trade unions to cooperate and find amicable solutions to address any situation arising from the Covid-19 outbreak, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) said today.

Its secretary-general J. Solomon said there must be frequent engagement between employers and trade unions to ensure that the disease and the resulting fear is contained.

 “Employers should reinforce sick leave policies and encourage employees to stay at home if they are feeling ill to the extent that it is feasible,” Solomon said in a statement.

Solomon also urged employers to consider some flexibility, including allowing employees to work from home.

“They should also consider limiting business travel to affected areas at this time and arrange for video conferencing, for example, during the duration of the threat and heightened risk.

“Employers should also call for emergency meetings with trade unions when such a situation arises to discuss ways to handle the epidemic.

“All policies should be enforced in a uniform and consistent way, and employers should not send employees to China, or any other location affected by the virus, unless absolutely necessary,” he said.

Solomon explained that by closely engaging with one another, no party will harbour any suspicious thoughts on actions taken at the workplace that involve quarantine, if necessary, which should not be seen as discriminatory but as a health initiative.

He also reminded that under Section 15 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1994, it is the duty of employers to provide a workplace which is free from recognised hazards, and is safe and without risks to health for their workers.

Covid-19 is the official name for the 2019 novel coronavirus, which was first detected in Wuhan, China in December last year.

The coronavirus has killed 1,017 people in the republic and one in the Philippines along with 43,155 of positive cases globally, according to the latest Health Ministry statistics.