Monday, 11 March 2019


Electronic assembly plants have provided provided thousands of jobs for ordinary Malaysians since the early 1970s and now in Penang - dubbed as "Silicon Island" are downsizing, retrenching workers and have been having periodic plant shutdowns, according to the secretary of the Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC).

This downsizing and shutdowns are blamed on  a slowdown in global demand for electronic products but that's cold comfort for those workers impacted.

So what are the federal government and Penang state government going to do to help these workers who are so affected?

Provide them with retraining to enable them to move up the skills chain to be employable in higher value-added work?

However, even if they all can successfully upskill themselves, are there enough jobs higher up the skills and value chain for them all?

Report of 11 March 2019 carried by Aliran follows below:-

Notices indicate downsizing, shutdowns taking place in electronics sector

The Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has seen notices from a couple of multinational corporations involved in the electronics manufacturing sector announcing personnel downsizing, lower wage increases, lower bonuses and periodic plant shutdowns.

Besides these written announcements that we have seen, we have also received reports that other companies are also planning to implement such measures.

These notices that we have read attribute all this to weak global demand, weaker growth and an uncertain global outlook as the underlying causes for the course of actions that are being undertaken by employers here.

The notices that we have seen and the information that we are receiving seem to indicate that the electronics sector employers are initiating downsizing and shutdowns from the end of March 2019. We believe we have only received a tiny bit of information and feel that the uncertainty of the global market would probably affect most of the major players in the sector.

We therefore believe that the Penang state government ought to call for a meeting with the electronics manufacturers in Penang so that the depth of the problem can be appreciated. Such a meeting would also give the state an insight as to the manufacturers' plan of actions in the face of challenges facing the sector. This meeting should include all stakeholders, including the unions.

On the issue of plant shutdowns, Penang MTUC demands that full wages be paid during such periods as any loss of wages would, inevitably, put tremendous pressure on the economic needs of the workers, especially given current rising cost of living.

K Veeeriah is secretary of the Penang division of the Malaysians Trades Union Congress.

Yours trully


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