Kulasegaran rues minimum wage delay, says looks like govt has abandoned workers

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 — Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran said that the new RM1,500 minimum wage should not have been delayed as it would have brought about many benefits.

He called the delay “unfounded”, saying that increasing the minimum wage would give workers, many of whom are from among the hardcore poor, more money.

“If this is the case, then how can we mistreat them?” he told Parliament.

Kulasegaran also referred to a promise that Pakatan Harapan (PH) made in 2018, in which it promised to raise the minimum wage by RM100 each year.

“Bank Negara said in an analysis that it made that a living wage for a single person working in Kuala Lumpur should be RM2,700; for a couple, it should be RM4,500; and for a couple with two children, it should be RM6,500,” he said.

“For the workers who very much need help, it looks like we have abandoned them,” he added.

Many employers have said that they will go bankrupt if the minimum wage increases, but he questioned if this was really true.

The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) had claimed that 600,000 employers will go bankrupt when the RM900 minimum wage was implemented in 2015, he said.

“But this was not true at all. As far as we know, it did not happen,” he pointed out.

Raising the minimum wage will also encourage workers to work locally instead of working abroad in neighbouring Singapore, he added.

But aside from raising the minimum wage, Kulasegaran brought up the progressive wage model that PH was analysing in 2018 when it first took the government.

In addition to raising the minimum wage, he said that workers should be given skills trainings such as reskilling, upskilling and cross-skilling.

In December last year, MEF president Datuk Syed Hussain Syed Husman told Utusan Malaysia in an interview that the changes brought by the Employment (Amendment) Act 2022, including raising of minimum wage from RM1,200 to RM1,500, reduced working hours, and a bigger overtime pay coverage, are too much for the employers to handle in a short period of time.

He reportedly claimed that the sudden increase in costs will burden employers and he feared that many employers will lay off workers to avoid going out of business.

He also reportedly said that employers have already been burdened with an additional RM4 billion in costs since the new minimum wage law was introduced in May last year.