At odds over new minimum wage

PETALING JAYA: A year after the implementation of a national minimum wage, things are heating up again with a proposal to review the RM900 ceiling upwards.

The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF), which opposed the previous ceiling, wants the minimum wage to stay put at RM900, but trade unions are clamouring for it to be raised to and standardised at RM1,200.

This is following the completed review of the policy by the National Wages Consultative Council which submitted its recommendations to the Human Resources Ministry recently.

Sources close to the council revealed that there were differences in opinion among the stakeholders involved, but they had “agreed to disagree”.

“MEF wants the current minimum wage to remain.

However, the MTUC (the Malaysian Trades Union Congress) wants the minimum wage to be raised to RM1,200 and for it to be standardised across the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak.”

The source said the Government had proposed RM1,000 as the revised minimum wage.

“The council has submitted its feedback to the ministry for deliberation.

“We hope the Government will come up with a fair decision to all,” said a source to The Star.

Another source said that the final decision would be announced by Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot soon, adding that it could be as early as next month.

Richard was reported to have said recently that details of the revised minimum wage policy would be announced once the Cabinet gave its approval with him saying that “there will be a little change” involved.

The minimum wage policy, which was enforced in January last year, requires employers with six or more workers to pay their employees a minimum wage of RM900 monthly in peninsular Malaysia and RM800 in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.

MTUC recently called on the Government to increase salaries by at least 6% citing the minimum wage as insufficient to deal with rising costs.

When contacted, MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said it was the federation’s view that the current figure of RM900 should stay as it was deemed reasonable at this time.

“Increasing the minimum wage should be avoided due to the current sluggish economic situation and the drop in fuel prices, along with its ripple effects,” he said.

Shamsuddin said employers were still trying to “adjust” to the existing minimum wage.

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