Tuesday, March 22, 2022






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.




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


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


Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) 

Penang Division