COVID-19 | There has been much debate over who should receive fast-tracked Covid-19 vaccines under phase one of the national immunisation plan, but some in certain occupations who have toiled away during the pandemic have not received the attention they deserve.
The government plans to vaccinate medical staff, enforcers and elected representatives first and is even prepared to consider teachers and media personnel.
But cleaners have not received much attention until the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) yesterday suggested that the government moves cleaners up the queue while letting politicians wait a bit longer.
Even though hospital cleaners have played an instrumental role during the pandemic, they do not qualify for the government's special RM600 monthly allowances for frontline staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now, there is a push to ensure that they will not be left out again - this time in the vaccination plan.
The Alliances of Government Contract Workers backed the MMA's call to consider hospital cleaners as frontliners.
"The Alliances of Government Contract Workers support MMA's suggestion that vaccination for cleaners must be a priority.
"While recognising the cleaners as frontliners, the MMA should also push for the government to extend the allowances to these workers as well," its secretary M Sivaranjani said in a statement.
Sivaranjani, who is also PSM's workers' bureau coordinator, added that likewise, the proposal to include teachers in phase one of the vaccination plan should also include school cleaners and security guards.
She added that compared with children, older people face higher risks when infected with Covid-19.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Workers in Hospitals Support and Allied Services welcomed MMA's call to prioritise cleaners for vaccination.
Its secretary M Sarasvathy said in a statement today the union had been demanding cleaners in government hospitals be recognised as frontliners since March 2020, and continues to insist so.
"We also pushed for the #CleanerJugaFrontliner" campaign so that (all of us) will appreciate the sacrifice they made and further recognise them as part of the frontliners," she said.
Sarasvathy pointed out that the cleaners were often left out whenever an incentive was announced for frontliners.
"It is the cleaners who are in direct contact with Covid-19 patients and they are most at risk in facing the pandemic," she added, stressing that the group should be prioritised in receiving the vaccine.