May Day Message by the Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng in Komtar, George Town on Saturday 1.5.2010
I would like to express concern over the federal government’s proposed amendments to Malaysia’s major labour laws that could affect the rights and livelihood of our workers.
The proposed amendments to the Industrial Relations Act 1967, Trade Union Act 1959 and Employment Act 1955 have been described by the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) as the worst plan conceived against Malaysian workers.
According to MTUC, if the amendment to the Industrial Relations Act is approved, it could take away employees’ right to bring up any case of wrongful dismissal to the Industrial Court.
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In conjunction with Labour Day 2010, DAP urges the federal government to introduce a two-tier system of a compulsory minimum wage to ensure all our workers would earn basic salary above the poverty level and an aspirational fair wage.
The absolute poverty rate in Malaysia is at 3.6 per cent, yet there are reports that some workers are still earning basic wages below the poverty line. Since the minimum wage is the lowest salary level that employers are legally bound to pay, I would like to propose a minimum monthly wage based on the poverty line of RM720 in Peninsular Malaysia, RM960 in Sabah and RM830 in Sarawak.
Although it may not sound much to some people, it must be understood that are still a lot of workers earning less than RM720 a month in this country. The minimum wage must be based on poverty level, and as such, different basic wages will paid in different states, according to the poverty line, as long as it is above the level.
Employers should not be alarmed by this proposal as this would only benefit them in the long run. The minimum wage will alleviate problems faced by their respective workers from the pressure of the ever-increasing costs of living such as prices of food, petrol, public transportation, lodging and other bills to be paid monthly. Such a personal pressure can affect a worker’s productivity and creativity.
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