PETALING JAYA: Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) has taken the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to task for not immediately increasing the minimum wage across the board to RM1,500.
Speaking to FMT, PSM workers bureau coordinator M Sivaranjani said the socialist party had long justified why there was a need for minimum wages to be increased now, rather than delaying it.
“We have been engaging with the ministry for the past two years on this. We have been consulted by them in various meetings to give our views. And yet, the only argument for the delay is because of concerns over the higher costs that will be borne by employers.
“We are disappointed in PH’s response that minimum wages in the country will only be increased by the end of its five-year term. There should have been a new quantum for minimum wages when PH took over,” Sivaranjani said.
Minimum wage in Peninsular Malaysia is currently set at RM1,000. It is RM920 in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.
Standardising minimum wage is one of the 10 election pledges PH promised to fulfil within 100 days of being in power.
Last week, Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran said a new country-wide figure for minimum wages would be announced within PH’s first 100 days of power, but indicated the starting figure might not be RM1,500.
“The implementation of the RM1,500 minimum wage as laid out in the Buku Harapan will be done in five years’ time,” he was quoted as saying.
This will also be subject to a review every two years.
The Malaysian Employers Federation has since said it is unfair if employers are to bear the burden of an increase in wages. This is because “the government says it does not have the money to pay the subsidy,” it claimed.
On Kulasegaran’s announcement of the quantum’s two-year review, Sivaranjani said the ministry had proved in the past it did not have the “discipline” to do so.
“In 2013, a new figure for minimum wages was introduced. By right, it should have been increased in 2015, but this was only done in July 2016.
“Now, 25 months have passed and we are still stuck with the present figure.
“A new figure by PH should have taken place as early as July, so why is there still a delay from their side?” she asked.
A complete study on the new minimum wage quantum will be presented to Parliament next week. Kulasegaran’s ministry is waiting for reports from stakeholders before determining a starting amount.
The new figure is expected to be announced on Friday.