PETALING JAYA: The issue of wages should be left to the labour market as it can efficiently determine what each worker should be paid, an SME group said.
For instance, employers underpaying their workers would find it difficult to retain them, said William Ng, president of the Small and Medium Enterprises Association.
“If employers pay less than what the rest of the market is paying, they will also find it difficult to attract workers,” Ng told FMT.
He said most companies normally reviewed staff salaries every year, depending on the performance of their business and inflation, allowing for the possibility of annual wage increases.
On Monday, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim urged private companies that had recorded substantial profits to follow the government’s lead as announced in the 2024 budget and improve employee salary schemes.
Anwar, who is also the finance minister, said he had received complaints from private sector workers claiming that their wages had not increased despite their employers reporting strong earnings.
Welcoming the prime minister’s call, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) suggested that the government take the initiative to bring about an increase in private sector employees’ wages.
MTUC secretary-general Kamarul Baharin Mansor suggested reviewing the minimum wage every two years.
“Aggressive action needs to be taken by the government if the prime minister’s call is ignored by private employers,” he said.
The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) said companies that can afford to raise their employees’ salaries should do so, depending on their business performance and market value.
MEF president Syed Hussain Syed Husman said government-linked companies, multinational companies and large private companies should support Anwar’s call.
“MEF calls on profitable businesses to respond positively to the prime minister’s recommendation that private sector employers review the appropriateness of remuneration and rewards for employees, taking into account the current cost of living challenges,” Syed Hussain said.