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?
Lee Choon Fai
KUALA LUMPUR: The implementation of the minimum wage will not be deferred as employers have more than eight months to adapt to the changes by July 2016.
Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Saripuddin Kasim said employers have been given a very reasonable amount of time before implementation.
“The effective date is July next year, the government has given ample time for companies to prepare for it,” he told a press conference at the Intercontinental Hotel here after presenting appointment letters to members of the National Wages Consultative Council (NWCC).
He said the minimum wage increase will motivate workers to be more productive and will benefit local industries in the long run.
Furthermore, Saripuddin said the wage increase will attract more local workers and reduce the reliance on foreign labour in Malaysia’s various sectors.
He added that as of Aug 31, the Ministry had brought 182 employers to court for failing to pay minimum wage and 122 were convicted for the offense.
NWCC chairman Tan Sri Steve Shim pointed out that 99% of employers complied with the first minimum wage order in 2012, even though there were some initial difficulties.
“From 2014 to Aug 31 this year, the Ministry conducted over 72,000 inspections across the country and out of those they found a 99% compliance rate. That is an impressive record so we don’t think deferment is necessary,” Shim said.
When asked why didn’t the government increase civil service wages as well, he said there is no basis for doing so yet.
However, Malaysian Employers’ Federation (MEF) president Tan Sri Azman Shah Haron reiterated that the increase will also cause massive currency outflow as many foreign workers stand to benefit and the government should look into this aspect as well.
Azman Shah said workers should also be provided with additional skills training to increase productivity in tandem with the wage increase.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak announced in Parliament last Friday that the minimum wage will be increased from RM900 to RM1,000 in peninsular Malaysia and RM800 to RM920 in Sabah and Sarawak.
Source: the Sun daily
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