Malaysia is one of Asia's biggest employers of foreign labour. But recently, cases of deaths, abuse and forced labour have come to light. What is going on? Who is protecting these migrant workers?
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) hopes all parties particularly employers will respect the Minimum Wages Order 2016 which comes into effect Friday.
Its secretary-general N.Gopal Krishnan said MTUC hoped the Human Resources Ministry would take stern action against those who refused to comply with the directive and government policy.
“Implementation of the revised minimum wage was actually delayed for 18 months. Therefore strict enforcement in the implementation of comprehensive guarantee is necessary.
“MTUC do not want employers to give any further reasons for not paying the minimum wage,” he said in a statement here, Friday.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem on Thursday said the Minimum Wages Order 2016, that is RM1,000 per month in the peninsula and RM920 in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan, would take effect July 1 without any delay.
The new minimum wage was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak when tabling Budget 2016 at the Dewan Rakyat on Oct 23, 2015.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) said it had no choice but to abide by the order even though they had been hoping for the implementation to be deferred.
MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said 70 percent of the target group who would benefit from the MWO 2016 are foreign workers.
“Only 30 percent or less of the half a million local workers would benefit as most had received the minimum wage when it was first implemented in 2013. So by now their salary should be more than RM1,000,” he told Bernama.
Shamsuddin said although the MWO 2016 was implemented to protect workers’ interest, it had become a burden to employers in light of business slowdown of between 30 to 40 percent at the end of 2015 until the first quarter of this year.
He claimed that the implementation of the MWO 2016 would not only hinder the creation of new employment opportunities, it could also force employers to lay off their workers due to financial constraints.
“In 2015, about 35,000 workers had to be laid off and in January this year, 5,000 people lost their jobs.
“So I feel there is no point to increase the minimum wage while others have to lose their jobs,” he said.
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