GEORGE TOWN: Workers at factories that have resumed operations have alleged that requirements to ensure social distancing and wearing of face masks have not been seriously enforced.

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) said it has been receiving complaints daily on how employers are not enforcing the rules strictly.

In response, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) conceded that there were “teething operational problems” in adopting the new measures and blamed it on the additional costs involved.

Secretary of the Penang branch of MTUC, K. Veeriah, said he has received an average of a dozen complaints daily on employers ignoring the guidelines although they are mandatory.

The complaints are mostly from workers in small and medium industries (SMIs) but there are some from big companies as well. Many chose to post their complaints on social media.

Under Phase 4 of the movement control order that began yesterday, about 60% of registered manufacturers in the free industrial zones in Penang have been allowed to operate, according to data from the International Trade and Industry Ministry.

There are about 60,000 factories across the country, most of which are SMIs. About 20,000 of them are located in the northern states.

In Penang, the manufacturing sector alone contributes about 30% of national revenue.

MEF executive director Datuk Shamsudin Bardan said while big companies can afford to ensure social distancing, the smaller ones are struggling with the additional costs.

“If social distancing is to be observed even in buses and vans, more such vehicles will be needed to ferry workers around,” he said.

Shamsudin said while it is “virtually impossible” to ensure social distancing along production lines, employers must continue to uphold the recommendations made by health authorities.

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‘Employers not enforcing social distancing rules’