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MTUC laments low wages amid rising costs

 | May 5, 2011

Good jobs lacking despite transformation plan, says unionist.

SUNGAI PETANI: Good jobs remain scarce for Malaysians despite the government’s economic transformation plan (ETP), according to a veteran trade unionist.

“There is no feel-good factor,” said secretary K Veeriah of the Penang chapter of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC).

Neither had the average worker in Penang experienced any benefit from the reported RM12.2 billion flow of foreign direct investments (FDI) into the state, he added.

He said some workers in the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone were still earning as low as RM500 a month.

“How much longer must our workers wait for the FDI inflows to translate into better paying jobs? In the meantime, they are grappling with the rising costs of living.”

Veeriah praised the government and employers for engaging in dialogues with MTUC and its public sector counterpart, Cuepacs, but called on them to make better efforts to address the twin problems of low wages and high living costs.

He said that a minimum-wage policy alone would not make life any much better for the average worker.

He described the proposed minimum wage – RM1,200 a month – as inadequate to cover the basic costs of transport, housing, food, education and health care, especially if inflation continues to rise.

He said the government must find ways to lower the costs of living, such as ensuring a more competitive market for vehicles, curbing speculation in the property market, and campaigning for greater consumer awareness.


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