Thursday, June 28, 2007

Support Minimum Wage for Workers

The price of fuel went up, the price of flour went up and so are many other daily household items. But the Minister of Human Resources Dr Fong Chan Onn called on MTCU to drop its demand as it would lead to the country losing its competitive edge.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of HR Abdul Rahman reportedly dismissed the pickets held on Monday by MTUC as not representing the voice of all union members as only 6,417 of the three million members had participated.

The deputy minister also said that enforcing a minimum wage and giving cost of living allowance was impossible and unfair in certain sectors such as the small and medium industries and domestic helpers as this was beyond the means of employers.

Over the years, the government is undeniably too pro-business and pro-investors. Policy makers have neglected the needs and interests of the workers. In many industries, especially hospitality, basic wages are far too low. As a result, many of the workers have to depend on OT to survive.

With rising cost of living, the government had increased the salary and COLA of public sector workers. It has to be consistent in supporting a similar increase in the private sector. A total of 10.8 million workers deserved to be better remunerated.


Anonymous said...

Let market forces determine wages. Otherwise the spiralling effect of price increases will turn into runaway inflation.

adrian foo said...

Minimum wage is a big story in many parts of the world whether in western country,S'pore,HK etc. It has its pros and cons. Frankly, it is not realistic to set a minimum wage in Malaysia as our country is facing stiff competition for Foreign Direct from other countries like Vietnam and China.
Well, the best way is for the government to do is to set aside an "Skills Upgrading fund" to help workers with lower skills to upgrade themselves. This is the real world....we can't do much about that.

Khoo Kay Peng said...

I am not surprised by the higher inflation and the need to attract FDI arguements.

On the first reason, the government said that a recent hike of civil sector salaries will not create higher inflation. Malaysia is a small consumer market where there are ample surpluses. We are a large trading nation too. Any increase in demand can be matched by supplies.

Anyway, most of the salary increase will be used for selective goods e.g. education, health care, housing, transportation, household equipments etc.

We can expect some portion of the salary going into saving accounts as well.

Second, the attractiveness of a country as a FDI destination is not dependent on low cost factor alone. Look at US, UK, HK and Singapore. These destinations continue to generate far more FDIs than lower cost Malaysia. China's cost is rising and yet its FDI inflows continue to grow as well.

Moreover, the bottom half of our lower income earners are seeing their pie shrinking. Corporations continue to announce huge profits. In cities such as Penang, JB and KL, it is difficult to live on a RM650 salary even if one is a single person.

Something must be done here if we are serious about distributive growth