The Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress believes in the saying: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”
This would be an apt description in the context of the prime minister persuading employers to implement a minimum wage of RM1,500.
However much the prime minister or the human resources minister coaxes the employers, nothing works – unlike mandating a RM1,500 minimum wage by gazetting a minimum wage order under the National Wages Consultative Council Act, 2011.
While both the prime minister and human resources minister recognise the need to implement a RM1,500 minimum wage due to the ever-increasing cost of living, they do not seem to have the political will to enforce such a minimum wage.
The prime minister’s announcement that government-linked companies will pay the minimum wage of RM1,500 is encouraging but flawed – for the simple reason he lacked the courage to announce it would be extended to all other sectors as well.
The prime minister has a fiduciary duty to be fair to all segments of society. By announcing a RM1,500 minimum wage to only government-linked companies, he has, in our view, failed to act with equity and good conscience in the matter.
The prime minister cannot be selective in a grave matter of concern, such as the much-awaited minimum wage of RM1,500.
Under the circumstances, we call upon the prime minister to immediately implement a minimum wage of RM1,500 to workers in all economic sectors of the country, as the prevailing financial constraints faced by the working population are constantly deteriorating.
K Veeriah is secretary of the Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC)