Putrajaya urged to make minimum wage documents public

MTUC says the government has ‘short-changed’ low-income earners by increasing the minimum wage by RM50. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has urged the government to allow public access to documents pertaining to its decision on the minimum wage.

“Why are they keeping the documents secret? Let the public have access. 1MDB reports were declassified, why not this?” secretary-general J Solomon asked during a press conference at the office of the National Union of Bank Employees today.

In September, Putrajaya announced that it had fixed the new minimum wage nationwide at RM1,050 or RM5.05 sen per hour, which will take effect from Jan 1 next year.

The new rate is also standardised for the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak.

Presently, the minimum wage is set at RM1,000 monthly for Peninsular Malaysia and RM920 for Sabah and Sarawak.

The National Wage Consultative Council (NWCC) had earlier studied a proposal on the minimum salary hike and the suggestions were discussed at the Cabinet meeting.

Solomon said the government has “short-changed” the low wage-earners, by increasing the minimum wage by a “beggarly” RM50, and by delaying the review for another six months.

“When the minimum wage came about in 2011, the act says that there has to be a review every two years, and the review can even happen earlier.

“The first review happened in January 2013. But the next review did not take place within the two years as was intended. The previous government extended it by 18 months to July 1, 2016.

“We have already lost 18 months because the government then did not follow the act.

“This year, the next review should have taken place on July 1. But then the government announced in September that the next review will be on Jan 1, 2019. Now, we have lost another six months.”

Solomon also dismissed the government’s claims that they were unable to increase the minimum wage as promised in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) election manifesto because when they took office they did not realise how bad the country’s finances were.

“Everyone knew, even the ministers themselves, that there was no money, even before the general election.

“PH, who was in the opposition at the time, was campaigning and saying that if we continued to have BN (Barisan Nasional) in power, we will go bankrupt.”

Solomon said although the minimum wage affects the private sector, the government is in a position to direct the private sector to pay the acceptable amount.

“The RM50 extra is absolutely unacceptable.

“This is the same government who emphasised that they want to share wealth and prosperity equitably among the people.”

He said the PH government should remember that the people had voted for change after 60 years as they had suffered enough.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) leader S Arutchelvan agreed with Solomon that the documents pertaining to the deliberations on the minimum wage hike should be made public.

“We are sure the report had proposed a higher quantum than what was announced by the government.

“They (the government) preach transparency, this is the time for them to demonstrate that.”

Meanwhile, the Bantah1050 protest against the RM50 minimum wage hike will take place on Oct 17 at Padang Merbok in Kuala Lumpur. It is expected to draw at least 300 people.