President Datuk Omar Osman told reporters today it was unfair for the government to offer only two options — join the new private company or opt for early retirement — to 139 technical staff who would be affected if the plan goes ahead.
“If we have the third option, then these 139 will have no problem. Right now, they are being threatened, forcing them to go or retire. This is dictatorial. Why not ask the minister to retire?” he said.
A source from the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry told The Malaysian Insider in December that the resistance from the ministry and SSD staff, could derail IWK’s controversial restructuring exercise.
However, the source noted that Cabinet had on November 25 already granted its approval in principle to the proposal, which will see IWK merge with SSD under a newly-formed private entity called the National Sewerage Company (Nascom).
The merger will effectively see the SSD dissolved and its employees absorbed into Nascom or opt for early retirement, forcing them to lose their positions in government service, claimed the source.
Omar said today the 139 must be allowed the option of being redesignated within the ministry or other ministries such as the Works Ministry.
But it is understood this would require new contracts being drawn up as the technical staff are employed under ‘closed service’ contracts with the government and cannot be transferred to other agencies.
The Cuepacs chief also said “if the majority of the 139 say they want to stay with the government, then don’t privatise yet.”
“Also, the government still has 35,000 contract workers that can go (to the private company). Don’t trouble those who want to stay with the government.
“What happens with all privatisation exercises is that they promise a lot of goodies. But after the it happens, there is nothing sweet, only bitter experiences,” he added.
The Finance Ministry admitted in November it had spent RM1.2 billion to sustain IWK’s operations since nationalising the national sewerage company in 2000.
It said in a reply to a parliamentary question from Anthony Loke (DAP-Rasah) that IWK has liabilities amounting to RM2 billion, while its assets were valued at about RM1.2 billion.
The ministry had also confirmed plans by the ministry to restructure the sewerage industry, review sewerage tariffs and guarantee future capital expenditure.
Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah had said on September 10 that IWK would be merged with a government unit, confirming an earlier report by The Malaysian Insider.