The dismal picture was painted by Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) president Zainal Rampak on Sunday, The Straits Times reported, citing The Sun newspaper.
Zainal predicted that about half the workers in the sector would be affected by retrenchments. Recent layoffs by Acer, Hitachi Metals, Motorola and the Solectron Group are an indicator of the hard times ahead.
Zainal told The Sun that the Human Resources Ministry had not cooperated in a satisfactory manner to address the problem. Approval for the MTUC to start a national union for electrical and electronics workers was still pending, he said. "We need more dialog. Our role is to ensure that the issue will be resolved."
He said that the MTUC, the country's largest trade union, would tell its affliates to include a clause on retraining, to better protect members from the vagaries of globalization.
"It is not enough for unions to ask for higher wages and better working conditions," he said. "They must also get the employers to retrain staff."