‘Illogical’ minimum wage: Najib under fire

PETALING JAYA: Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) has described Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s minimum wage announcement as a “cunning election announcement”.

Yesterday, Najib said the minimum wage for workers in Peninsular Malaysia will be set at RM900, whereas in Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan, it will be RM800.

PSM secretary-general S Arutchelvan said a higher minimum wage for Peninsular Malaysia is illogical when Sabah and Sarawak have a higher poverty line.

“The poverty line of Peninsula is RM764 whereas in Sabah, it is RM1,048 and Sarawak RM912.

“How can then the Peninsula get a higher minimum wage compared to Sabah and Sarawak?

“This is not only discrimination but illogical,” he added in a press statement.

Arutchelvan said the implementation of the minimum wage would not overcome income disparity but rather widen the gap between the Peninsula and East Malaysia.

Najib was also criticised for not setting the minimum at RM1,500.

“We also proposed that the government give subsidies to small and medium enterprise companies to help them pay the workers a minimum wage.

“PSM has also argued that the Malaysian economy will be able to absorb a minimum wage of RM1,500 and it will boost the economy when workers have higher purchasing power,” said Arutchelvan.

No time frame

PSM is also concerned that there is no time frame to implement minimum wage which means that it will not be implemented any time soon.

Najib announced that the minimum wage will take effect six months from the date the minimum wage order is gazetted and small enterprises are given a 12-month period to implement them.

“With Najib’s constant flip-flopping, we would never see the daylight for this policy.

“Firstly, Najib says the rates will take effect six months from the date the minimum wage order is gazetted, which we do not know when.

“Next, small enterprises are given another six months to give them the space and opportunity,” he said.

PSM also criticised Najib’s flexible implementation mechanism as a mechanism to delay the
implementation of the minimum wage.

PSM also took offence with the fixed cash payments for workers since it was a pro-employers measure.

“This proposal seems to be in line with the wishes of the bosses who wanted to absorb some benefits into the minimum wage package,” said Arutchelvan.

Najib had said the government would provide an implementation mechanism so that the minimum wage initiative would not burden the employers or be detrimental to workers, by allowing a part of the allowances or fixed cash payments to be taken into account when calculating the wage quantum.

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Minimum wage set at RM900