Thursday, June 9, 2022

An Ageing Population And The Need For A Retirement Safety Net.

 An Ageing Population And The Need For A Retirement Safety Net.

When workers were entiched to withdraw their  Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) savings to sustain themselves during the Covid19 pandemic, it resulted in only about 3% of them having adequate  savings to afford to retire. 

Thus, the indisputable fact is, that, our working population are stranded with inadequate savings, or none whatsoever, post retirement. Given the fact that our population demography is fast reaching an old age soceity, and coupled with the fact that they don't have sufficient post retirement savings, our nation may well be heading towards a future that will witness growing poverty. 

Without sustainable post retirement savings our "warga emas" would either be compelled to continue to work or become dependent on the goodwill of soceity for survival unless the government initiates an appropriate social safety system to address the situation.

We, in the MTUC, believe that it is possible to implement a comprehensive post retirement safety net if the government is minded to:-

1. Merge the EPF and SOCSO entities so as to consolidate their resources to introduce a retirement safety scheme. As we understand the EPF investment assets are about a trillion ringgit. And SOCSO's asset size is in the billions. With such massive financial assets, and through prudent return on investment, we are convinced that a post retirement safety system is possible.

2. Setting aside say 1% of taxes collected.

With the consolidation of EPF and SOCSO and with an annual allocation of a portion of taxes collected to the said entity, we believe that a retirement safety scheme may well be possible.

3. Enhance EPF Contributions.

Enhancing existing statutory EPF contributions will increase savings with our proposed consolidated EPF, SOCSO organisation which, in turn would enable the sustainability of our suggested old age support scheme.

4. Move Towards A Living Wage.

Whilst progressive improvements, to the minimum wage, is welcomed it does not meet the threshhold living wage module as expounded by Bank Negara Malaysia. According to Bank Negara an individual needs a living wage of RM2700.00 to sustain him or herself. By moving towards a living wage it would, consequentially, translate to higher savings, again, with our proposed consolidated entity.

Taking cognisance of a fast approaching ageing soceity, we would urge the government to consider our proposals. And we believe the government ought to consider our suggestions  in formulating it's 2023 budget.

K.Veeriah

Secretary

Malaysia Trades Union Congress, Penang 

016 4184520 

9.6.2022

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Exemption Of RM1500.00 Minimum Wage For Selected Sectors

 

Press Statement By  Malaysian Trades Union Congress Penang Division - 

Exemption Of RM1500.00 Minimum Wage For Selected Sectors.

The Human Resources Minister, M.Saravanan's announcement that selected sectors, such as tourism, the informal sectors and those who have suffered losses due to the impact of Covid-19, would be exempted from the Implementation of the proposed minimum wage of RM1500.00, is misplaced.

In the first instance the underlying objective, of a national minimum wage is premised upon the principle that all wage earners, irrespective of the economic sectors that they are involved in, ought to be paid a decent minimum wage. This is for the simple reason that any wage, below the national minimum wage, would only result in a mis-match of minimum wage levels between one economic sector to another. Common sense will dictate that our government cannot be cherry picking on the fundamental issue of a national minimum wage. In our view a national minimum wage must be enforced holistically and not selectively.

On this said issue the Minister Of Human Resources, and by extention the government, seems to have been swayed by the lobbying by the business community to extricate themselves from paying their workers the national minimum wage. Obviously, we have inherited a government that seems to be beholden to the employers at the expense of the grossly underpaid working class population.

On a population demography, the most vulnerable citizens of our soceity are those who are entrapped in the B40 and M40 segment. By exempting them from the benefits of the minimum wage of RM1500.00, the government ought to stand accused of being inconsiderate to their financial plight. They, faced with the ever escalating cost of living, will continue to suffer financial stress no thanks to the baseless selective implementation of the RM1500.00 minimum wage.

MTUC Penang Division is of the view that the government has a moral obligation to ensure that each and every working class citizen is paid the national minimum wage as all workers have the constitutional right to be treated equally.

We, therefore, demand that the Human Resources Minister, and the government, upholds the constitutional right of all workers to be accorded the national minimum wage without any exemption.

K.Veeriah

Secretary MTUC Penang Division

016 4184520

14.4.2022

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Bosses Indiffrence To Welfare Of Migrant Workers, A Case Of Insufficient Enforcement?


 Press Statement By Malaysian Trades Union Congress Penang Division - Bosses Indiffrence To Welfare Of Migrant Workers, A Case Of Insufficient Enforcement?

Nauseating odour, rats and cockroaches infested living conditions, folded cardboard boxes for a bed, poor ventilation and leaking pipes - not a case of life in a slave camp but a reality in today's Malaysia!

That was the case when our Labour Department (Jabatan Tenaga Kerja) inspected the housing conditions of migrant workers in Bandar Tun Razak, Cheras recently.

Shocking, though, was the discloure that the employer’s representative took the position that the company has fulfilled it's responsibility to provide accomodation but had no time to monitor living conditions leaving it to the workers to resolve issues they face!

We, in MTUC Penang Division, outrightly condemn the nefarious attitude of the employer involved. To the authorities we say invoke the full extent of the law as such employers do not deserve mercy for their inhumane treatment of their migrant workers. We are also of the view that such uncaring employers should be black listed from seeking to recruit migrant workers.

Our country, having ratified the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Protocol 29 related to the ILO's forced labour convention, has a duty to enforce the Minimum Standards Of Housing, Accomodation and Amenities Act, 1990 (Act 446) without fear or favour. Though that ought to be so, we are given to understand that, with about 400 labour inspectors nationwide the Labour Department (JTK) lacks the manpower to undertake extensive inspection of housing conditions let alone adherence to employment related labour standards. Needless to state that, under such circumstances the incidences of absuses and violation of Act 446, would continue to exist on account of insufficient enforcement.

MTUC Penang Division, therefore, is of the view that the Ministry Of Human Resoucers ought to create a Migrant Workers Affairs Department with jurisdiction to oversee issues pertaining to employment of migrant workers. With millions of migrant workers toiling in the economic interest of our country we would argue that a specialised Migrant Workers Affairs Department with the authority to investigate, inspect, enforce and prosecute errant employers is urgently required. 

It is our opinion that, unless our Human Resoucers Ministry takes a proactive approach in matters related to the absuses confronting the migrant workers, violation of basic human rights will continue to prevail. But by enhancing our enforcement mechanism, through a dedicated Migrant Workers Affairs Department within the Ministry Of Human Resources, we believe that instances of migrant workers absuses can be greatly arrested.

K.Veeriah

Secretary 

MTUC Penang Division

016 4184520

10.4.2022

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

MINIMUM WAGE MUST NOT BE A POLITICAL TOOL

 

PRESS STATEMENT



MINIMUM WAGE MUST NOT BE A POLITICAL TOOL

DELAY FOR SMALL BUSINESS WILL BE DISCRIMINATION

MTUC Sarawak welcome the announcement that minimum wage will be increased to RM1500 wef 1 May 2022 but is very concerned that the National Minimum Wage policy has been hijacked for political expediency.


The minimum wage, policy with the enactment of the National Wages Consultative Council Act (NWCC) was implemented as one of the policy tool to push Malaysia towards a high income nation.


The minimum wage policy is intended to ensure that the basic needs of workers and their families are met, protect them from exploitation, and to incentivise firms to move up the value chain by investing in technology and boosting productivity.


The minimum wage policy is envisaged to have an important role in addressing inefficiencies in the labour market, and in improving the social welfare of low-paid workers. It would alleviate labour market distortions and maximise the efficiency of labour usage in the economy. 


In Malaysia, real wages have recorded a slower growth compared to real labour productivity.


When wages have been artificially suppressed below productivity levels, it would has led to low labour participation rates in the economy and brain drain, as workers have less incentive find employment inside the country. In fact wages have been suppressed at such low levels that local workers were displaced by low-waged foreign workers.


We have no doubt that the social economic data supports the increase to RM1500. As such we are very disturbed that the Government intend to allow small and micro companies to postpone the implementation of the minimum wage.


Such a proposal will be discriminatory and maybe even non in compliance with the NWCC ACT. 


Cost of living for workers is the same no matter which employer they work for. A cup of coffee, a pack of nasi lemak, a bowl of mee or a litre of petrol cost the same whether one is an employee of a GLC, a multinational big company or a small business.  They are all from the same keluarga Malaysia.







In fact most big companies provide other employment perks that SME do not provide. So workers of small business are already worse off.


It is also a fallacy and fear mongering to claim that small business cannot accord to pay. They have fewer workers and their labour cost is not higher than big companies. SMEs are a pampered lot and they even have a dedicated ministry and many government agencies to look after their interest.


It will also be an implementation disaster as many employers are spilt into separate legal entities and associate companies and hence qualify as small business when in reality they are significant employers. It will lead to abuses.


We therefore demand that the new MW must apply to every employee throughout the nation.






ANDREW LO

SECRETARY

MTUC SARAWAK


Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Rocketing Cost Of Living And Unstainable Wages - Need For Government Intervention


Never in history has the employers' class subscribed to the ideals of an equitable wage system. Motivated by a desire to amass wealth, otherwise justified as return on investment, uncaring employers have always sought to suppress wages. 

When countries, such as Singapore and South Korea embarked on attaining a high wage income society in the 1980's, our political leadership took the approach of suppressing wages by flooding the labour market with an infusion of migrant workers.

With very low unionisation of workers, no thanks to the pro-capital labour legislation in force since independence, millions of workers have been deprived of the numerical strength to progress wage enhancement through the collective bargaining process. Pivoting on both the lack of trade union membership density and the restrictive labour laws denying workers even their fundamental right to strike, the working population have been, systematicly, denied a decent wage though a Bank Negara Malaysia study has identified that our nation ought to embrace a "living wage" module of wage determination as opposed to the "minimum wage"  concept so preferred by our political leadership.

Inspite of a surge, in the prices of essential goods, employers organisations such as the MEF, FMM and the SME, are opposed to an increase in the minimum wage premised upon the age old argument that businesses cannot survive with a minimum wage of RM1500.00.

Though mindful of the back-lash, I am of the view that the theory of the survival of the fittest ought to prevail. If an employer cannot pay a decent "living wage" or for the matter a minimum wage of RM1500.00 they should not enslave workers with exploitative wages. To be blunt, employers who have no capacity to pay a decent wage, have no right to a claim of being pay masters!

To the misplaced arguments, by the employers for a cheap wage system, I say you do not deserve to remain in business unless you are committed to uplift wages to a "living wage" as propunded by the Bank Negara.

To argue, that a minimum wage of RM1500.00, would adversely affect the micro, small and medium enterprises, is akin to saying that our workers ought to continue to wallow in the depths of the vicious low and middle income trap just so that employers can continue to stay in business.

Under such circumstances it is my view that it would be appropriate for the intervention of the government to correct the wage inequality for the benefit and well-being of the people.

The government cannot posture itself as the saviour of the people until and unless it has the moral dignity to, immediately, implement a sustainable living wage for workers.

Opinion piece by:-

K. Veeriah

24, Jalan Goh Swee Huat 

Taman Bukit 

14000 Bukti Mertajam 

016 4184520

15.3.2022

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Minimum Wage Of RM1500.00 - Just Implement It Instead Of Persuading Incorrigible Employers To Act On Their Own!

 


The Malaysian Trade Union Congress, Penang Division is of the view that the saying "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink" would be an apt dichotomy in the context of the Prime Minister persuading employers to implement  a minimum wage of RM1500.00. However much the Prime Minister or the Human Resources Minister coaxes the employers, nothing works unlike mandating a RM1500.00 minimum wage by way of gazzeting a Minimum Wage Order pursuant to the provisions of the National Wages Consultative Council Act, 2011.

While both the Prime Minister, and Human Resources Minister, have taken cognisance of the need to implement a RM1500.00 minimum wage having regards to the ever increasing cost of living factors, they do not seem to have the political will to enforce the said minimum wage.

The Prime Minister's announcement that, government linked companies will pay the minimum wage of RM1500.00, is encouraging but flawed for the simple reason that he lacked the courage to announce that it will be extended to all other sectors as well. The Prime Minister has a fiduciary duty to be fair to all segment of society. By announcing the RM1500.00 minimum wage to only government linked companies he has, in our view, failed to act with equity and good conscience in the matter. The Prime Minister cannot be selective in a grave matter of concern such as the much awaited minimum wage of RM1500.00. 

Under the circumstances we call upon the Prime Minister to immediately implement a Minimum Wage of RM1500.00 to workers in all economic sectors of the country as the prevailing financial constrains faced by the working population is constantly deteriorating.

K. Veeriah

Secretary

Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) 

Penang Division 

0164184520

12.3.2022

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

MEF'S Grouse Against Higher Minimum Wage For Migrant Workers

 Press Release By Malaysian Trade Union Congress, Penang Division - MEF'S Grouse Against Higher Minimum Wage For Migrant Workers 

The Executive Director of MEF, Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, is reported to have said that an enhanced minimum wage would only benefit foreign workers. His argument seems to be premised upon the fact that migrant workers remit 'surplus salaries' to their home countries. It, also, seems to be his contention that, such repatriation of surplus salaries, deprives our economy from benefiting from a big portion of the wages earned by the migrant workers.

Essentially, what Shamsuddin Bardan is saying is that all migrant workers ought to spend all their salaries earned here and, in the process, neglect on their financial obligation towards their families in their countries.

Such a proposition, by the MEF, stands testimony to their uncaring disposition to the circumstances under which migrant workers seek employment overseas in a hope to uplift themselves, and their families, from the economic challenges in their home countries. It is needless to state that, no citizen of a nation would elect to leave behind their family and loved ones, their culture, culinary delights, festivities etc except for the sole purpose of eking out a living just so to sustain themselves and their families. And for MEF to have the audacity to imply that such a situation is unacceptable is complete madness! 

Values of humanity, that encompasses one's obligatory duty to the family unit, is ingrained in our society and the same values ought to be upheld in respect of migrant workers. Sadly, the MEF, fixated with viewing migrant workers as a means of production rather than humans struggling to mitigate their financial constrains, must stand accused of contempt in the matter.

In retrospect we would be inclined to tell MEF, and their associates that, if they view migrant workers as siphoning 'surplus salaries' to their home countries, stop clamouring for the services of migrant workers! In passing we wish to state that we find it repulsive, that, MEF has descended to such a cheap and inhumane approach in it's attempt to derail the enhancement of the minimum wage. To MEF we say stop your nonsensical mockery!

K. Veeriah

Secretary 

Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) Penang Division 

016 4184520

16.2.2022