Penang MTUC raps Kula over minimum wage

The human resources ministry says it is considering ‘more relevant’ minimum wages for sectors like plantations and hotels.

PETALING JAYA: The Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has criticised Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran over his statement that the RM1,100 minimum wage is “too high” for some businesses.

In a statement, MTUC reminded the minister of Pakatan Harapan’s pledge in its election manifesto to raise the minimum wage to RM1,500.

It also cited Bank Negara Malaysia’s report that workers should be paid a living wage rather than a minimum wage.

“The report, as we recollect, in a nutshell states that our workers are not paid a decent living wage that would be adequate to meet the prevailing cost of living factors, let alone residual income for home ownership, etc,” it said.

It added that workers, whether Malaysians or migrants, worked excessive hours to meet their economical needs. Referring to the recent case of workers in the rubber glove manufacturing sector, it said this was evidence that the wage levels of the working population are “grossly inadequate”.

“MTUC Penang Division calls upon the minister of human resources to refrain from making statements without consideration for the wider concerns of the working population on the issue of a decent living wage,” it said.

Kulasegaran said yesterday that his ministry was looking into more “relevant” basic salaries for different sectors such as plantations, hotels and coffee shops.

He said members of the Malaysian Employers Federation had told him that employers who could not afford the minimum wage had been forced to reduce their number of workers or even close shop.

The minimum wage, previously set at RM920, was increased to RM1,100 effective Jan 1 this year.