KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 — Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng has blasted two Cabinet ministers for their apparent lack of compassion over the recent minimum wage issue.
He said Malaysia does not need ministers who fail to uphold the monthly minimum wage of RM1,200, instead seemingly aiding and abetting employers against their personnel to pay below the minimum wage.
“Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan is supposed to enforce the minimum monthly wage of RM1,200 but has instead said it is better for graduates to accept jobs with RM1,000 monthly pay than be unemployed,” Lim said in a statement.
The Bagan MP also took Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed to task, describing him as even more unsympathetic than Saravanan.
“He said that graduates with RM1,000 per month jobs should be grateful to have a job. This is derisory and derogatory on job-seekers, especially graduates.
“No graduate would be grateful to a government that failed completely to save jobs or failed to create new jobs that caused unemployment to rise to 4.9 per cent in January 2021 with youth unemployment at a record 13.5 per cent, failed to mitigate the economic recession and reneged on their duty to statutorily enforce the minimum wage,” he said.
Lim added that both Saravanan and Mustapa also violated the National Wages Consultative Council Act 2011 (NWCC) when they urged graduates to accept pay below the RM1,200 monthly minimum wage.
“Both ministers should be ashamed for failing to observe, uphold and enforce Section 43 of the NWCC that imposes a RM 10,000 fine on employers for every employee not paid a minimum wage.
“The current minimum wage of RM1,200 per month, with a yearly RM100 increment.
over a period of five years, was set by Pakatan Harapan to fulfil the 2018 general election manifesto of RM1,500 monthly minimum wage,” he said.
Lim said the RM1,500 monthly minimum wage was set when Malaysia’s poverty line income (PLI) was fixed at a household income of RM980 per month.
“In 2019, the Statistics Department had revised the PLI to RM2,208 per month, thus pushing up the country’s poverty rate from 0.4 per cent in 2016 to 5.6 per cent last year.
“Paying below minimum wage is not helped by Bank Negara’s prediction of an inflation rate of 2.5 per cent to four per cent this year, with a short-term spiking to around five per cent in the second quarter of 2021,” he said.
Lim argued that when compared to a deflation of 1.2 per cent in 2020, paying below the minimum wage cannot possibly help to offset the expected rise in the general level of prices this year.
“With the upward revision of the PLI monthly household income to RM2,208, paying the minimum wage cannot be compromised.
“Not only is the present Perikatan Nasional government rolling back the labour reforms carried out by the previous Pakatan government, it is being oppressive to labour rights by refusing to respect the statutory minimum wage,” he said.
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