No minimum wage yet? Stop giving the same excuses!


Malaysia is not yet ready for a minimum wage. This is the consistent statement of the Human Resource Ministers of Malaysia. The newly appointed Minister and his deputy are no different, complains Jerit.

On Wednesday, Deputy Human Resource Minister Noraini Othman parroted the same excuses as the previous Human Resource Minister, Dr Fong Chan On, as to why minimum wage cannot be implemented here in Malaysia. Answering questions during the Parliament sessions, Noraini told the Dewan Rakyat that the minimum wage policy is still not a feasible idea for the country and the government has set up the wage committees as an alternative.
What the Deputy Minister forgot to mention is that the wage committees were set up to guide respective industries on their salary schemes. Such councils can only propose a minimum wage for workers of that particular sector but cannot enforce it. Furthermore not all sectors are covered by these wage committees such as the janitors, factor workers, plantation workers and the lowly paid jobs.

So it looks like the Deputy Minister is trying hard to mislead the parliamentarians. However simple rationale thinking would easily bring anyone to the conclusion that the minimum wage would benefit the majority of Malaysian working class.

The point is that, under current circumstances, with the increasing cost of living, the workers in Malaysia need a minimum wage scale to lead a decent life instead of being pushed into poverty. This means the minimum wage would provide sufficient purchasing power to enable a worker to attain a basic standard of living.

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But the next argument will be, the world is facing an economic crisis; so it is not possible to implement a Minimum Wage Act just now- another opportunistic argument to deny the rights of the workers.  But when the economy is booming and the workers demand a Minimum Wage Act, the same government will say, the economy is booming and investors are investing; so if we introduce a Minimum Wage Act, investors will leave the country and invest in countries such as Vietnam and China – another convenient excuse.

What the government and employers fail to understand is, a justified minimum wage will motivate workers, enhance productivity, reduce dependency on welfare and enable the workers to enjoy the benefits of economic growth.

Thailand, Indonesia, China, Japan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, India, Venezuela  and first world countries have enacted a Minimum Wage Act to protect the lower income groups and ensure that the majority of workers earn a living wage, After all, a Minimum Wage Act should be enacted to provide a living wage because the current wage is not enough to live on.

Thus, Jerit demands that the Malaysian  government stop giving excuses and deceiving the people. Enact the Minimum Wage Act immediately to safeguard the interests of the working class, who are the foundation of Malaysia’s progress and economic growth.

Parameswari .S

Coordinator Coalition of Factory Workers and Trade Union


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