At odds over minimum wage

PETALING JAYA: Workers unions and public interest groups welcome the proposal to set up a National Wages Consultative Council to study a single minimum wage for all sectors but employers are still opposing a standard minimum wage for all sectors.

“A single minimum wage will ensure better income distribution for all,” said Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) president Mohd Khalid Atan.

He said MTUC had asked for a RM900 minimum wage plus RM300 hardship allowance for all sectors during week-long minimum wage laboratory discussions by various stakeholders which ended on Monday.

He was commenting on reports that the Government would set up the council to study the single minimum wage for all sectors before it is incorporated into the proposed National Minimum Wages Act 2011.

Mohd Khalid said the proposal, which is expected to be tabled in Parliament in March, was generally accepted except by the Malaysian Employers Association (MEF).

MEF executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said employers did not want a minimum wage system but wanted the Government to enhance workers’ skills and promote skills certification.

“Employers are willing pay for certain set of skills and subsequently, workers’ wages will improve,” he said, adding that workers would suffer if employers could not pay high wages and fold their business.

“If we want to be a high-income nation, it ought to be based on skills and performance,” he said.

The issue of illegal workers must also be addressed because it pulls down wage levels, he said.

Cuepacs secretary-general Ahmad Shah Mohd suggested that the Government implement minimum wage for civil servants according to the officer’s minimum pension rates.

Fomca secretary-general Muham­mad Sha’ani Abdullah said minimum wage would not eliminate poverty, hence, the Govern­ment needed to subsidise health care, education, housing and public transport.

Goods and Services Tax should also be implemented soon to make companies more transparent rather than hide their income and claim that they could not pay a minimum wage, he said.

Security Services Association of Malaysia president Datuk Shaheen Mirza Habib said a single minimum wage system for all sectors would be better than different minimum wages for various sectors.

“I would not want my security workers to move to another industry just because the industry pays better,” he said.