PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) is proposing that the government introduce a monthly RM500 cost of living allowance (Cola) for all workers and raise the mandatory retirement age to 65 for Budget 2020.
Secretary-general J. Solomon said it was the government’s responsibility to lower the cost of living to enable a decent living as commodity prices continued to go up and never came down.
“The government must accept that Malaysians in the middle and lower income levels are unable to make ends meet, and those with families are actually struggling.
"We are not asking for higher take-home wages; we are only asking for a real wage.
"The United Nations findings show that the poverty rate is as high as 15% to 20%, and this has direct co-relation to low wages," he said in a statement Sunday (Sept 1).
Solomon also urged the government to consider Bank Negara's report which stated that a working bachelor in Kuala Lumpur would need a minimum of RM2,700 a month to enjoy a decent living while a married couple with two children needed about RM6,500.
He added that current salaries of many Malaysians were far below these amounts.
Solomon said the introduction of Cola would be an effective move to address the current income disparity and the low minimum wage, adding that this would strengthen the aggregate demand and boost economic growth.
In calling for a higher retirement age, MTUC cited the lack of sufficient income to sustain life after retirement due to the expected increase in life expectancy in the future to 80.
Solomon said a higher retirement age would boost the Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF) savings for those in the lower income category and for senior citizens.
“We propose that the extension of retirement age to be optional and at the same time the EPF withdrawal should also to be optional at the age of 55 as is the current practice.
"For those who withdraw at 55, they will still have continuous savings up to 65 years of age with the extension of the mandatory retirement age," he said.
Solomon added that this was among six proposals it had submitted to the government on Aug 26 for consideration for Budget 2020.
According to MTUC, the other proposals it had submitted were for the introduction of human and workers’ rights into the current syllabus for secondary school students and tertiary education, enhancing accessibility to TVET programmes and increasing collaboration between industries and TVET providers, providing security of tenure in employment for workers in facing the Industrial Revolution 4.0, and enhancing employee welfare and better employment opportunities.