JERIT would like to express its disappointment over the statement made by the Human Resource Minister during an interview session with FMT - Minimum wage to be more than RM740, Teoh El Sen | December 7, 2011. According to the Minister the National Wage Advisory Council (NWAC) is at its final stage of deliberating the quantum of the wage which could range between RM740 to RM1100. The Minister also said the NWAC is currently studying the rate and coverage of minimum wage according to sector, job type, area and territory.
JERIT, after looking at the statement by the Minister, is worried that the minimum wage will be fixed slightly above poverty line and only few sectors will get the maximum of RM1100. JERIT and the trade unions have been demanding for RM1500 due to the increase in cost of living and other factors. Any wage below that quantum is not going to ease the burden of the workers who have been contributing to the economy of the nation. With the annoucement, JERIT forsee the workers in rural areas, certain sectors in states like Kedah or Perlis will earn lesser.
The Minister may have forgotten that these workers too have school going children, have to pay the same price for basic necessities like rice, chicken, sugar, petrol, school fee and etc. This is why a minimum wage of RM1500 for all workers without any form of discrimination is crucial.
The Minister further said that the World Bank and other studies has cautioned that any figure above RM1,200 could have some challenging impacts on our economy like inflation. If this is true, then why the government has decided a pay hike between 7-13% for civil servants from January 2012. This hike is also meant for high-ranking officers in the civil service. While JERIT welcomes the pay hike for low waged civil servants, there should not be double standard because the workers in the private sector are more vulnerable and earning much lower and they are the majority forming almost 11 million labour force in the country.
JERIT believes that the Ministry of Human Resorce is not sincere in providing a decent living minimum wage to the workers. It is expected that the government is going to announce the minimum wage by the end of year just as a poitical gimmick and its propaganda for the up-coming general election. The previous wage council has proven that it has no bite and can never enforce the employers to pay minimum wage like what happened to the security guards. History is going to repeat itself.
If the BN Government is really sincere, then it should listen to the cries of the majority workers (and not World Bank) and use its political will to implement minimum wage of RM1500.