Why all the complication? – Just make minimum wage RM 1200 for 2020

PSM STATEMENT – 19 DECEMBER 2019 –

We refer to the Ministry of Human Resources’ decision to raise the minimum wage to RM1,200 in 57 cities and towns, and freeze it at RM1,100 for the rest of the country. Why not just make it RM 1200 nationwide?

Malaysia was supposed to be a fully developed nation in 2020 based on Mahathir’s vision 2020. This year PH unveiled its joint prosperity vision. Instead of cutting down the disparity between the rich and the poor, the Government is creating disparity among the poorest by increasing the minimum wage for wage earners in 57 towns only. And the increased minimum wage for those in the 57 towns is merely RM1200, when in contrast the MTUC and PSM are calling for RM 1800 while Bank Negara has proposed a much higher figure.

Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional both in their election manifestos agreed to increase the minimum wages to 1500 in five years and currently the ruling party has another 3.4 years to get this done with maybe another 2 reviews in minimum wage in between. It will therefore be logical and make more sense if the current wages is increased to RM 1200 across the board as it will make things less complicated and will reduce strain in the administration and implementation of this new law. By the time the authorities and the employers get familiar with this, the next review will already be up.

We also have very low confidence that the PH Government will keep to their RM1500 promise because that will mean that they have to review and increase wages by at least RM150 for the next 2 reviews. Since coming to power, PH only initially increased the minimum wage by RM 50 and only after a huge protest, did they agree to increase it by another RM 50 making it RM 1100. Therefore it will be more convincing if the government increases the minimum wage for all to RM 1200 now.

The increase in the minimum wage to RM 1200 itself is far from adequate and to restrict it to workers in just 57 towns shows the government is out of touch with the reality in smaller towns. It is a struggle for all Malaysians whether they live in the 57 towns or elsewhere to survive on RM1100 and even RM1200. Differentiating the minimum wage for the B20, especially when it is not even a living wage, is totally unreasonable and unacceptable.

The recent report by UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston on Malaysia’s poverty rate cannot be dismissed.

In the PH Manifesto, the Government has agreed to subsidize the minimum wage. We also know that GLCs play a major role in our economy and they pay obscene salaries to their chiefs. As it stands, the PH Government refuses to increase taxes for the super rich and refuses to regulate wages of the top earners in GLCs, therefore the least it could do is increase the wages of the lowest paid workers nationwide.

S.Arutchelvan
Deputy Chairperson
Malaysian Socialist Party

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