SUBANG JAYA: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) today criticised ministers for “confusing” the public regarding the 10% service charge subjected to consumers, mostly in hotels and some restaurants.
“I think it is wrong for the Ministers to confuse, not only hotel and restaurant employees, but the general public as well,” MTUC Secretary-General N Gopal Krishnam told the media here today.
“All these years I’ve been paying the 10% service charge, and now due to the minister’s statement, I’m thinking if I should pay the charge or not. He has created confusion among Malaysians.”
He was referring to a statement by Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan who said the 10% service charge imposed by hotels and restaurants need not be paid after the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was implemented on April 1.
This was followed by a statement by the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry which ruled that eating establishments could only collect a 10% service charge if they had a collective agreement (CA) with their workers.
Gopal Kishnam said the statements were “unfair” as the Ministry was aware that due to bureaucracy and other red tape, the number of trade unions in Malaysia was very low.
“Indirectly, he’s saying not to have unions, as consumers will go to places where they will be paying lower prices, and they will go to places without unions.
“It’s a very uncalled for statement by the ministry.”
He also warned that if the service charge was removed, MTUC would not hesitate to take legal action against the government’s various ministries, as well as mobilise workers in the service industry to picket or strike.
He said doing away with the service charge would mean a drastic reduction of income for industry workers as more than 50% of their wages were derived from the service charge collected.
He also claimed the service charge had been observed for over three decades now.
MTUC said that allowances and additional income from tips or services charges did not constitute minimum wage, yet there were many employers who still justified these add-ons as part of their workers’ wages, and got away with paying less than the RM900 minimum wage. He said numerous cases such as these were pending in court.
On a separate topic, MTUC cleared the confusion over its stand regarding the withdrawal age of Employees Provident Fund (EPF) savings.
“MTUC’s official stand on the matter is that the withdrawal age should be at 55 years like it is now.
“However, if the employee decides to keep their savings in EPF until 60 or 100 for dividends, they are free to do so,” said Gopal Krishnam, pointing out that MTUC was wrongly quoted by the media who said they supported the proposed new minimum age of 60 for EPF withdrawals.