Basic wages grew by 5% across the board, says ministry

Ilmia director Wan Zulkifli Wan Setapa says employers may prefer hiring foreign workers because of their commitment and attitudes.

PUTRAJAYA: The human resources ministry says basic wages in the labour market grew by 5% nationally in the 12 months between September 2017 and September 2018.

Wan Zulkifli Wan Setapa, director of the Institute of Labour Market Information and Analysis, said salaries grew by 5.3% in the peninsula and 2.7% and 4.6% in Sabah and Sarawak.

“Five percent can be seen as low because of low productivity,” he said after the announcement of the national wage index by Deputy Human Resources Minister Mahfuz Omar here today.

“If we want to increase it, we would have to increase productivity as well. We have long working hours, but our productivity is still low.

“It’s time for policymakers to think about how we can have higher productivity,” he said, adding that discussions had been held on the matter from time to time.

Wan Zulkifli said Malaysia’s productivity is lower than that of countries like Singapore and Australia.

On why many employers appear to prefer recruiting foreign workers for basic jobs, Wan Zulkifli said this was due to the workers’ commitment and attitudes.

“It is the norm if foreigners work harder because they are working in a foreign country,” he added. “They will focus on their jobs.

“Locals have many other commitments. It’s not because they are lazy or choosy or that their productivity is low. They have better options to choose from when it comes to jobs.”