Friday, August 19, 2022

Stop wasting time and increase minimum wage

Secara Rawak

KUCHING: A coalition of 58 Malaysian trade unions and worker organisations has urged the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) to stop weaponising Covid-19 to suppress minimum wage increase.

Labour Law Reform Coalition (LLRC) ticked off MEF for arguing that wage hikes would result in an increase in the cost of small and medium businesses during the economic recovery period, and would even probably lead to their closures.

“We must remind MEF that during the pandemic, workers are suffering as much as employers.

“Many were laid off, forced to take unpaid leave or had substantial wage cuts. MEF should not exaggerate employers’ suffering while neglecting the sacrifices of workers.

“Since the negative impact of the pandemic was shouldered equally by employers and workers, why can’t employers share economic profits in the form of wage hikes with workers when the economy is recovering?” said LLRC co-chairpersons N. Gopal Kishnam and Irene Xavier in a statement.

Economic analysts have forecast that Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth will increase from 3.5 per cent in 2021 to 6.2 per cent.

They said it was unfair to say that wage hikes would kill businesses.

“When the economy is returning to normal, it’s time for employers to compensate workers with a higher wage floor.

“We must remember that our minimum wages are still below the poverty line. The market must recognise that there is a human element in determining labour cost.

“Please treat workers as human beings who need decent living, rather than as a commodity that generates profits for capital owners,” they said.

Meanwhile, the coalition appealed to the government to announce the new minimum wage without wasting time.

“The delay in implementing the new minimum wage has again violated the purpose of the National Wage Consultative Council Act that requires the minimum wage to be revised every two years,” they argued.


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