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


Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) Penang Division 

016 4184520


An ageing Population And The Need For A Retirement Safety Net For Workers

Press Release By Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) Penang - An ageing Population And The Need For A Retirement Safety Net For Workers.
According to statistics released by the government our nation is on the fast track of attaining an ageing society. It is, thus, obvious that our government needs to embark on devising a scheme of social security safeguard to provide for the financial survival of our ageing population.
No thanks to the misplaced schemes, to allow workers to dip into their old age EPF retirement savings, only about 3% of workers are left with sufficient savings in their EPF to sustain themselves post retirement.
Whilst the RM101 billion taken out from the EPF would, in all likelihood, translate into spending which, in turn, helps to bolster the economy of the country, the filp side is that about 97% of the working population will be conscripted to wallow in the depth of poverty having no sustainable source of financial security post retirement. Unless the said situation is addressed, urgently, our nation will be confronted with an ageing population deprived of sustainable financial social security network in the not so future. And it would be no-gain saying, that, a lack of a comprehensive post retirement retirement support system will have spill over impact on our health and welfare system.
Having regards to the matters set-out hereinbefore, we take the liberty to suggest that our government considers the following:-
1. Consolidating EPF, SOCSO And Other Existing Retirement Schemes
The EPF is said to have investment assets of about a trillion ringgit. As for SOCSO it is reported that it's asset size is in the billions. Aside from these entities, there are other schemes such as the KWAP having at their disposal considerable funds and assets. It is our view that, by consolidating these entities into a single corporation, a scheme of social security safeguard may well be possible.
With combined assets, in the trillions, we believe there is window of opportunity to formulate a comprehensive social security protection system to address the challenges of a fast approaching ageing population.
In this respect it is needless to state that, to sustain a post retirement support system, the consolidated fund needs to generate a rolling source of income. That, in our view, can be realised through prudent return on investments.
2. Setting Aside A Percentage (%) Of Taxes Collected Towards The Consolidated Workers Retirement Plan.
With the consolidating of the EPF, SOCSO and other bodies, and, say, with an annual 1% allocation from taxes collected channelled to the merged entity, it may well facilitate the implementation of a sustainable post retirement scheme for retiring workers. With the consolidated funds at it's disposable, and through returns on investments, we believe that an equitable post retirement safety network can be realised.
3. Raise retirement age
The indisputable fact is that life expectancy has risen and, as such, there is a need to reconsider the mandatory retirement age of 60. As a matter of fact a vast majority of retirees are still employed albeit at exploitative wages and terms of employment just on account of their post 60 years retirement age. Such exploitation can be eradicated if the retirement age is raised.
4. Move to a living wage system
A Bank Negara Malaysia 2018 study says that, an unmarried worker needs a monthly "living wage" of RM2700.00 to sustain himself. The said study has also revealed, that for a married couple with no children, the living wage would be RM4500.00. And for those who need to support two children the living wage need to be pegged at RM6500.00. In the light of the said study it cannot be challenged that our workers are grossly under-paid.
Prof. Yeah from Sunway University of Business School, among others, has expressed his opinion that, based on the current National Minimum Wage of RM1200.00 a workman has to supplement his income by talking on an additional job.
Though that be the reality what it means is that our workers have to work excessive hours, be it be working overtime, on their rest days or even on public holidays just so to earn sufficient income to provide for themselves and their families.
Working excessive hours, without any iota of doubt, translates to a deterioration of both physical and mental health of workers which, if permitted to continue would, inevitably, impact on productivity. Further, it would impose tremendous pressure on our already overworked, and under equipped, public health system. It is, therefore, imperative that our nation escalates to a living wage system as opposed to the minimum wage concept of wage determination.
5. Enhance EPF Rates.
It cannot be denied that there is a correlation between the rates of pay and the contributions to the EPF. Given the mis-match between the prevailing minimum wage and the Bank Negara's suggested living wage it cannot be denied that contributions to the EPF old age savings are, pathetically, devalued. Thus, it is vital that the monthly contributions to the EPF be enhanced to provide for sufficient savings to the workers. On this score it is our view that there needs to be a parallel shift of wage determination from the minimum wage idea to that of a living wage system whereby EPF contributions would see progressive enhancement.
In conclusion we take the liberty to argue that the limited scope of proposals, set-out hereinbefore, ought to be given serious consideration in the interest of the workers' post retirement security.
Press Release By:-
K. Veeriah
Malaysian Trade Union Congress
Penang Division
016 4184520