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MTUC deeply regret the position of The Sarawak Timber Association on the issue of minimum wage as it is incoherent, even down right contradictory and of course self- serving.
The Association stated that comprehensive studies on the impact of implementing the minimum wage have to be carried out before a review can even be done. However it deemed that a review at this stage is premature and wanted the current minimum wages rates to be maintained for another two years”.
STA seems imply that the National Wage Consultative Council, which it is represented, has not done any study before it submitted its recommendations on minimum wage.
STA also said minimum wages should commensurate with productivity by sectors and type of employment.
MTUC have no problems with such a stance. However data after data from study after study done both locally and by international bodies such as ILO and World Bank has shown that wages in Malaysian has fallen below productivity levels.
A sad part is that the figures showed that income of Bumiputras, especially natives Sarawakians which form the backbone of the forest and plantation sectors are amongst the lowest paid and way below the value added per employee.
As such if STA is really is sincere that workers should be paid accordingly to productivity, then it has no reason to worry about a minimum wage of just $800 per month or any review.
Please note that $800 a month is less than the poverty line index of $954. Imagine an industry that spawns the Nation richest men is paying below poverty line.
Further STA which represent the timber tycoons, who are amongst the richest men in Malaysia wanted these timber tycoons to be exempted from complying with three sections of the Sarawak Labour Ordinance; Section 11 – Guaranteed Week, Section 105 – Hours of Work and Section 105B – Rest Day. It earlier even wanted exemption from granting public holidays to timber employees
Timber employers in Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia never asked for such special treatment.
STA seem to encourage employees to work non stop without statutory rest 7 days a week. Then it had audacity to claim that that this is to allow the industry to have the flexibility to work under permitting weather and in safe working conditions.
MTUC believe that it is extremely dangerous for timber workers to work from sunset to sun down without any rest for 7 days a week. This may be the reason why SOCSO claims for employment injuries by Timber workers are amongst the highest.
Yet this is the same employers that complained that it cannot get local workers and wanted to employ foreign workers.
I would think STA should focus on helping our Chief Minister weed out illegal logging instead of whining about a $800 minimum wage that is below the poverty line of $954 per month.
If a Burger stall can pay its employees and Chong Ah Fatt workshop can pay its mechanic $800 a month, why can’t Timber tycoons?
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