PETALING JAYA: The country’s largest workers group has mooted a living wage of RM2,700 per month for workers in big cities to lure Malaysians to take jobs usually taken up by foreign workers.
Malaysian Trades Union Congress secretary-general J Solomon said the living wage is among the measures that the government and employers can take to ensure there is no labour shortage from a government freeze on the intake of foreign workers.
The freeze is aimed at ensuring that Malaysians can fill the vacancies.
The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers has voiced concern that a blanket ban could stifle the expansion of some industries.
However Solomon said: “If workers are paid better, and if working conditions improved, there will be no problem in getting locals to do the jobs foreigners usually work in.
“Thousands of Malaysians work dirty, dangerous and difficult (3D) jobs every day overseas, from Singapore to Australia to South Korea.”
Malaysians did not take up such work here because of low wages, poor working conditions and labour policies.
“We should work towards a living wage based on the costs of living in an area. For example, for those working in KL, Johor Baru and Penang, the basic take-home pay should not be less than RM2,000. Which means their gross pay should be at least RM2,700.”
Workers in the “3D” jobs should be employed full time rather than on contract and be accorded benefits such as EPF contributions, Socso protection, medical coverage and accommodation among others.
“The labour department should also be effective in their inspections and enforcing labour laws that protect the workers,” he said. The government could come up with incentives for employers to replace foreign labour with local workers.
However, the government should stop mollycoddling employers, Solomon said.
“They have reaped their just rewards from years of government help and benefits. and it is time to do their national service by helping the government to keep the unemployment rate low.”
“Covid-19 had shown the employers that without the workers, there is no factory or firm. Let a sense of humanity return. Top management salaries should come down and a ceiling set.”
Solomon also called for employers to stop union-busting, ensure a safe workplace, and that workers are adequately insured.
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