Gov’t must fork out differences incurred by workers affected by minimum wage implementation delay

A LARGE number of low-income workers have just received some very disappointing New Year news from Human Resource Development Minister V. Sivakumar.

As a result of the minister’s decision, workers in workplaces with less than five employees had to wait another six months until July 1 this year to enjoy the expected RM1,500 salary.

The minimum wage order has been in effect since May 1, 2022 but the government at that time gave an exception to employers who employ less than five workers.

Rani Rasiah (Pic credit: Malaysiakini)

Now, the new government also sympathises with employers in this group and further postpones the enforcement of the RM1,500 wage based on the economic and financial challenges they face.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) has no objection to the government’s decision to help micro-businesses or employers who are facing financial problems.

But we absolutely cannot accept a decision that ignores and does not take into account the poor workers affected by the postponement of the minimum wage to July 2023.

Subisidise the differences

The Human Resources Ministry should act fairly and represent the interests of the working class as well. Did the minister get the views of the workers as one of the main stakeholders?

Low-income workers who face the high cost of living every day certainly cannot support a decision that will continue to hurt them.

PSM is of the opinion that the government in this situation should provide a fund to subsidise wages for each employee in this category for the next six months – RM300 per month for three months and RM150 per month for the remaining three months with another RM150 borne by the employer.

According to PSM’s estimate, just under 300,000 workers work for employers in this category, with a salary of RM1,200.

The budget for this subsidy is only RM90 mil per month for the first three months and RM45 mil per month for the second three months. This allocation is not so big, but it will help a lot for low-paid workers in our country.

The burden of delaying the enforcement of the minimum wage should not be borne by the poorest workers.

We are aware that government officials are sacrificing part of their salaries as an act of solidarity with the people who are suffering from the high cost of living, but the poorest workers cannot afford to do so.

The Human Resources Minister should also be aware and take decisive action against a large number of employers who have not yet paid RM1,500 per month to their employees since May 2022.

PSM estimates that the government itself has not modified the contract to allow contractors in half of the government schools to pay the new minimum wage to their workers. Don’t ignore the workers!

The government should fulfill its election promise to be sensitive and friendly towards the poorest and marginalised sections. – Jan 3, 2023


Rani Rasiah is coordinator of the Migrant Workers Right to Redress Coalition (MWR2R), a coalition comprising PSM, Tenaganita, MTUC, Sahabat Wanita, Jerit and AOHD. She is also a central committee member and migrant desk coordinator of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM).

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Main pic credit: Utusan Malaysia

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