Amanah Youth’s call for postponement of minimum wage hike misunderstands workers’ struggle.

If Amanah Youth’s economy bureau director, Ammar Atan, holds any understanding of the economic challenges faced by low and middle income wage earners, he would not have called for the postponement of the minimum wage order of RM 1,500 involving workers of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). Evidently, he has elected to turn a blind eye to the indisputable fact that workers are subjected to toil away in the small, medium and informal sectors on unsustainable wages.

According to the latest reports, the cost of basic necessities such as bread, fish and vegetables has increased many-fold, and is expected to further increase up to 60% next month in June 2022. It is also worth noting that inflationary trends are reported to be significantly escalating. This event will likely continue to prevail on account of supply chain disruptions caused by current geopolitical circumstances. As a net food importing country, we are further impacted by the depreciation of our Malaysian ringgit – which translates to a higher cost of imported essential food products. The reality of such increases would inevitably affect the working class.

Given these conditions, we find it completely unacceptable for Amanah Youth to call for the postponement of the minimum wage increase for SMEs, ostensibly on the premise that they were not given enough time to get ready. The National Wages Consultative Council Act 2011 (Act 723), in clear terms, states that the Minimum Wage Order is required to be revised once every two years. The managements of SMEs ought to have read the law and should have better prepared themselves to adapt to the expected periodic improvements issued pursuant to the Minimum Wages Order 2012.

Therefore, for Amanah Youth to campaign on behalf of the managements of SMEs (as opposed to highlighting the suffering of the workers) is not only repulsive – but devoid of any and all justifications. To Amanah Youth, we demand that you pay attention to the plight of workers’ suffering, instead of acting as a mouthpiece for capitalistic employers!

K. Veeriah
Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC)
Penang Division

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