MTUC: Employers trying to avoid paying decent wages

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PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has criticised the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) for advising job seekers to be reasonable in their wage expectations in tough times.

MEF Executive Director Shamsuddin Bardan had said companies were at present more selective than in normal times due to lower hiring needs and easier availability of candidates.

He added that those seeking employment had no choice but to adapt to the tough job market and that they should not demand too much in wages and other benefits.

MTUC Secretary-General N Gopal Krishnam claimed this was merely a way for employers to avoid paying employees what they deserved.

He told FMT: “This sort of negative statement is just made so that they can run away from the fact that they are obliged to give employees minimum wages or decent wages.”

He explained that minimum wages were for school leavers who had just joined the work force while those with qualifications who wanted better jobs were expected to be paid more than the current minimum wage of RM1,000 (in the peninsula).

“Employers have to pay according to what the market rate is and should not come up with such unscrupulous statements.”

Krishnam pointed out that locals were having a hard time getting jobs that offered decent wages as they were no longer in a position to negotiate since most employers felt they could always hire a foreigner instead.

“In the private sector, 35 per cent of the workforce is made up of migrant workers and they are here for the short term to earn a living and go back.

“Therefore, they will accept whatever the employers give them and work under any conditions.”

Meanwhile, Klang MP Charles Santiago claimed that the demand for higher wages was linked to the increase in the cost of living.

“At present, husbands and wives are holding three jobs so the demand for higher wages is legitimate,” he told FMT.

He said because of the lower wages, youths and others were increasingly falling into debt.

“Borrowing from banks and Ah Long (loan sharks) has increased and in fact the number of bankruptcy cases among youths has increased as a result.”

He said locals no longer had any room to negotiate for better wages since “they can always be replaced”.