Najib promises paternity leave, higher minimum wages

Prime Minister Najib Razak says law will amended to make private sector employers allow husbands 3 days paternity leave.

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Najib Razak today delivered good news to Malaysian workers by announcing five “gifts”.

Addressing the 2018 Workers’ Day rally at Dewan Merdeka, Putra World Trade Centre here, Najib said the government would provide a RM3 million special grant to the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) in appreciation of the workers’ loyalty to the government and country all along.

“This special grant will be given this year. It will be left to MTUC to distribute the contribution to the other trade unions,” he said to thousands of workers in the audience.

Najib said if the civil servants had been deemed loyal supporters of the government, the whole Malaysian workforce of public and private sector employees, as well as the employers and 742 trade unions, were the “flesh and blood” of the nation.

He said if the Barisan Nasional was returned to power in the 14th general election (GE14) on May 9, the government’s second gift would be to raise the minimum wage from RM1,000 and RM920 to a new level that would be announced this year.

Najib said he had been informed that since 1998, the MTUC’s call for a minimum wage policy was ignored by the then top leader of the government. This left the workers having to struggle with monthly wages as low as RM400.

However, within a year of taking office as the prime minister, Najib had announced the implementation of a National Minimum Wage Policy and subsequently the National Wages Consultative Council Act 2011.

This saw the minimum wage set at RM900 for Peninsular Malaysia and RM800 for Sabah and Sarawak in 2012.

“Last year, the minimum wage was raised by 11% and 15% respectively to RM1,000 in the peninsula and RM920 in Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.

Najib said in an effort to nurture wholesome families among employees, the BN government proposed a special initiative of mandatory paternity leave of at least three days for husbands of private sector employees.

He said the amendments to the law to provide for this initiative were expected to be tabled in Parliament early next year at the latest.

The prime minister also said the government had agreed to introduce the Employment Insurance System (EIS) in January. This was to assist workers retrenched as a result of downsizing of companies and other reasons.

Although the full EIS payment could only be paid out from January next year, he said the fate of workers who lost their livelihood was not forgotten as the government had allocated RM122 million to the Social Security Organisation (Socso) to make EIS payments to the affected employees.

He said, if BN is returned to power on May 9, the government would provide another RM60 million to Socso, making it a total allocation of RM182 million for that purpose.

“With this additional RM60 million, the interim aid rate to affected workers will be increased from RM600 for a period of one to three months to RM1,000 for the first month, RM800 for the second month and RM600 for the third month,” he said.

Meanwhile, to produce skilled manpower in facing the Industrial Revolution 4.0, the prime minister announced an allocation of RM200 million, through the Human Resources Development Bhd, to undertake human capital strategic initiatives.

Themed “Skilled Workers: Drivers of the Nation’s Excellence”, today’s celebration also saw several workers’ leaders and employers being recognised for their past services.

The National Workers’ Personality Award (executive) was presented to the late Izham Yusoff, from Bina Darulaman Bhd, the National Workers’ Personality Award (non-executive) to Bahrin Buang, from Lumit Mara Skills Institute, and the Disabled Workers Personality Award to Naziaty Mohd Yaacob, from Universiti Malaya.

Also present were Human Resources Minister Richard Riot Jaem, Chief Secretary to the Government Ali Hamsa and MTUC president Abdul Halim Mansor.