Civil servants’ union Cuepacs and the Malaysian Trade Unions Congress (MTUC) will not let up on their war against the increase in consumer goods’ prices.
Cuepacs president Omar Osman said they will launch next year’s campaign several months ahead of the festive season so that they will have sufficient time to garner support from consumers.
"People say the campaign is good but we launched it too late. So next year, we will launch the campaign earlier," he said at a leafleting activity held at the Puduraya bus terminal yesterday.
Cuepacs and MTUC managed to distribute some 20,000 pamphlets containing a list of products which it urges the public to boycott.
Contacted later, MTUC president Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud said the leafleting activity aims o create awareness among the lower and middle income groups who would be most affected.
The boycott campaign, launched on Sept 23, calls on the public not to purchase basic products which had their prices increased by traders.
“We are doing this to create awareness and hope that they (the public) would participate to ensure the effectiveness of the campaign. Only when this happens will the members of the Cabinet take notice and react accordingly,” said Syed Shahir.
Not doing enough
Consumer groups like the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) too felt that the government is not doing enough to tackle the problem.
Yusof Abdul Rahman, a public relations officer with Fomca, when asked for comments said he does not think the government has any real power to stop traders from exploiting consumers.
He also said it is partially the government’s fault that traders develop the habit to increase prices.
“During the Mahathir era, he (former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad) concentrated too much on industrialisation when he should have given the agricultural sector equal attention.
“Because of this, we see an influx of imported food products as local producers are not capable enough to cater for the needs of the population and this gives way for traders to exploit the situation as the authorities cannot control the price increase of goods beyond the controlled items jurisdiction,” he said.
Previously, consumer groups came under fire from MTUC for allegedly being ‘slow’ and ‘unresponsive’ to the boycott campaign.
Asked to comment on this, Yusof said he felt the boycott tactic is not suitable.
“We hope the best for MTUC and Cuepacs in their campaign but according to our experience, we don’t think it will be suitable for consumers as most of them do not have the option to choose as they are heavily dependant on them (the goods),” he said.
According to him, engaging the relevant departments in dialogues is the best way to reach an amicable solution.
Following the government’s decision to increase the salaries of civil servants by July 1, the public began complaining of prices going up and now with the Hari Raya celebrations around the corner, the same is happening.
According to Fomca, 17 items have been listed as products with increased prices. These include, chicken, fish, tomatoes, red chilies, Indian imported beef and local mutton.
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