Ministers must help employees receive above the minimum wage, not aid and abet employers against employees from paying below minimum wage

Malaysians do not need Ministers who fail to uphold the minimum wage of RM1,200 a month and instead heartlessly ask graduates to be grateful for jobs that pay RM1,000 per month. Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan is supposed to enforce the minimum monthly wage of RM1,200 but has instead said it is better for graduates to accept jobs with RM1,000 monthly pay than be unemployed.

Economics Minister Mustapa Mohamed is more hard-hearted, saying that graduates with RM1,000 per month jobs should be grateful to have a job. This is derisory and derogatory on job-seekers, especially graduates. No graduate would be grateful to a government that failed completely to save jobs or failed to create new jobs that caused unemployment to rise to 4.9% in January 2021 with youth unemployment at a record 13.5%, failed to mitigate the economic recession and reneged on their duty to statutorily enforce the minimum wage.

By asking graduates to accept pay below the RM1,200 monthly minimum wage, both Saravanan dan Mustapa are violating the National Wages Consultative Council Act(NWCC) 2011. Both Ministers should be ashamed for failing to observe, uphold and enforce section 43 of the NWCC that imposes a RM 10,000 fine on employers for every employee not paid a minimum wage. Ministers must help employees receive at or above the minimum wage, not aid and abet employers against employees from paying below minimum wage.

The current minimum wage of RM1,200 per month, with a yearly RM100 increment over a period of 5 years, was set by PH to fulfil the 2018 general election manifesto of RM1,500 monthly minimum wage. The RM1,500 monthly minimum wage was set when Malaysia’s poverty line income (PLI) was fixed at a household income of RM980 per month. In 2019 the Statistics Department had revised the PLI to RM2,208 per month, thus pushing up the country’s poverty rate from 0.4% in 2016 to 5.6% last year.

Paying below minimum wage is not helped by Bank Negara’s prediction of an inflation rate of 2.5%-4% this year, with a short-term spiking to around 5% in the second quarter of 2021. Compared to a deflation of 1.2% in 2020, how does paying below minimum wage help to offset the expected rise in the general level of prices this year?

With the upward revision of the PLI monthly household income to RM2,208, paying the minimum wage cannot be compromised. Not only is the present PN government rolling back the labour reforms carried out by the previous PH government, this PN government is being oppressive to labour rights by refusing to respect the statutory minimum wage.

Media statement by Lim Guan Eng in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, 7th April 2021