As I was reflecting on my next article, I received a message of bad news from an employee of a prominent hotel in Perak whose management has instructed the F&B – food and beverage – and kitchen staff to go on six months’ unpaid leave due to a severe dent on revenue.
The imposition of the second movement control order has created greater uncertainty in hotel business projections – which is one of the primary reasons that hotel workers around the country are retrenched or ask to go on unpaid leave.
Without a bank loan moratorium, I wonder how would some workers with financial obligations survive in the next six months. They would be at the mercy of banks. The more distressing aspect is the skills and contribution of these employees would need to be put on hold for a long time, since there is not much hope that the hospitality industry would be revived soon.
The question in my mind is, how would these workers adjust themselves in the months to come when the government has done little to support the hotel industry? How would wage subsidies work in the context where the hotel’s primary business such as food and beverage are crippled and there is no wage support for those who earn above RM4,000?
As I finished my conversation, I got another call from a friend, a factory worker who told me how he was asked to go for a 10-day quarantine a few weeks ago, after one of his co-workers was infected by Covid -19.
He narrated how an ambulance came to his home and took him, together with 11 workers. They were tested negative at a general hospital and then told to go on a 10-day quarantine at a specific place.
When I asked him of his experience in the quarantine centre, he told me there were about 300 people there who had some contact with Covid patients. Those in the quarantine centre were freely conversing with each other.
To him it was a significant risk of infection since those who were in the hall had previous contact with Covid-infected persons. On the positive aspect, the hall and toilet were sanitised frequently.
Based on the conversations with two individuals in different situations, it reflects the current economic and health crisis. It exposes social realities of Malaysians and structural inequality where government hospitals have been overburdened while private hospitals are seeking ways to profit through Covid. – New Straits Times