KUALA LUMPUR: The minimum wage should be set based on various aspects, including the job sector, academic qualifications, experience and skills of workers to give justice to all parties, according to the leaders of the country's two main trade unions.
National Association of Skilled Workers secretary-general Mohammad Rizan Hassan said giving consideration to academic qualifications alone is impractical and unfair because it can be manipulated by employers by offering low wages to workers with low academic qualifications, but with extensive experience and skills.
He said it is also not healthy for the job market, as it gives a “signal” that Malaysia is lagging behind some countries when it comes to hiring skilled workers.
“In Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, workers with level three or four skills in the field of automation and have a professional certificate as an automation technician are considered experts in the field and are given double or triple the salary earned by a Malaysian at only RM2,700 to RM3,000 per month.
“In Thailand and Vietnam, Malaysian skilled graduates are offered jobs with high salaries, but this is not good because it will cause a continuous brain drain,” he told Bernama.
He said this in response to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's statement on Monday (May 1) regarding minimum wage.
In conjunction with Labour Day on Monday, the prime minister in his speech said the issue of the implementation of minimum wage will be discussed in the Cabinet meeting next month, to get a once and for all solution.
He was reported to have said that the minimum wage was still difficult to implement.
The minimum wage order came into effect on May 1, 2022, with a monthly minimum wage of RM1,500 for all sectors, regardless of region, for employers with five or more employees.
For employers with fewer than five employees, the implementation of the minimum wage has been postponed from Jan 1 to July 1 this year.
Mohamad Rizan said the setting of the minimum wage cannot be based on one standard wage rate only.
“When implementing the minimum wage rate, the government also cannot give an exception to any party. The minimum wage is needed for the government to control the industry, especially in relation to human resource development.
“We fear that if there is no minimum wage, the industry will be more irrational in determining wages, and this will adversely affect the workforce,” he said.
For Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) president Mohd Effendy Abdul Ghani, the minimum wage should be progressive to balance the workers' needs and the rising living costs.
He said the minimum wage should take into account the experience and skills of employees and sectors involved and that it should be reviewed periodically, at least once a year, to ensure the rate is relevant to the economic situation.
“This needs to be looked at holistically, apart from continuous enforcement and monitoring of employers' compliance because in the previous implementation of the minimum wage of RM1,200, some employers were found to deduct the employees' allowances and included the amount in the basic salary,” he added.
Besides enforcement, Mohd Effendy said efforts to increase the awareness of employers and employees regarding the minimum wage order are also important because not many employees know about their rights.
Source : The Edge Markets