Raising the minimum wage by RM100 to RM1,000 a month in Peninsular Malaysia is too little, says the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC).
It should in fact be pushed up by at least RM300 to RM1,200 in Peninsular Malaysia given the higher cost of living, MTUC secretary-general N Gopal Kishnan said today.
He said the new minimum wage rate should take effect immediately and not in July as announced by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in the 2016 budget speech last October.
“This step is crucial for reducing the burden of rising living costs being borne by the people especially the workers,” he said.
Najib had announced that minimum wage will be raised by RM100 to RM1,000 a month for Peninsular Malaysia and by RM120 to RM920 a month for Sabah and Sarawak starting this July.
MTUC also called on the government to ignore calls by employers to defer the rise in minimum wage.
Pay cost of living allowance
Instead, it called on the government to advise employers to pay a cost of living allowance (Cola) of RM300 to employees to ease the rising living cost which included toll hikes and public transport fee hikes.
Alternatively, he said, the government can design a programme where the government pays for such living allowance benefits instead.
“We strongly feel that the increase in salary and Cola will contribute to cash flow in the hands of workers or their families which will enhance their purchasing power and improve the economy of the country,” he said.
“MTUC also hopes that the government will review the implementation of public transport fare increases announced recently in addition to temporarily suspending the toll hike.
“These steps are vital because it contributes to an increase in the cost of living lately,” he said.