FOR many years, cabbies have been clamouring for Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Social Security Organisation (Socso) benefits, forgetting they are customers and not employees of taxi companies.
In January 2010, EPF launched the 1Malaysia Retirement Savings Scheme to encourage the self-employed and those without fixed monthly income to contribute voluntarily based on what they can afford.
In March 2013, there was a four-week promotion blitz to get taxi drivers, petty traders, farmers, hawkers, entertainment artistes, musicians, fishermen and housewives to contribute to EPF.
This month, Socso enforced the Self-Employment Social Security Act 2017 mandating all taxi drivers, including those driving for Grab and Uber, to be registered under the government’s social security net plan.
Earlier in May, Socso chief executive Datuk Dr Mohammed Azman Aziz Mohammed was reported to have said: “We hope to complete the whole process by the end of June as the Act officially comes into force on June 1.”
But out of the estimated 100,000 drivers in total, only 120 signed up to pay online within the first week, and drivers may now be given until end of the year.
Those who fail to do so will be barred from renewing their Public Service Vehicle licence.
They could also be charged in court and if found guilty, could be fined up to RM10,000, jailed up to two years or both.
Taxi drivers have demanded for Socso benefits, naively thinking that it will be given free of charge, but will now have to cough out between RM157.20 and RM592.80 a year.
Thousands of low-income taxi drivers and part-time Uber and Grab drivers are likely to be hauled up for failing to comply, but Socso has no choice as it has to enforce the law.
Cabbies must now be regretting for being overly vocal on their demands for safety nets, when they could easily pay for their own insurance covers whenever they wish.