Monday, February 14, 2011

Workers, local and foreign, do enjoy the same salary for the same job in Malaysia

It is odd that the Minister is using the word 'may' - because it is already a certainty, and this guarantee of equality is found in Malaysia's Federal Constitution which is extended to all persons, not just citizens.

Further, in our Employment Act, there are clear provisions that state that there should not be any discrimination on the basis of one being a local worker or a foreign worker, and if there is a complaint can be lodged...

60L.  Director General may inquire into complaint.(Employment Act 1955)
(1) The Director General may inquire into any complaint from a local employee that he is being discriminated against in relation to a foreign employee, or from a foreign employee that he is being discriminated against in relation to a local employee, by his employer in respect of the terms and conditions of his employment; and the Director General may issue to the employer such directives as may be necessary or expedient to resolve the matter.
The problem now is that market forces determine the wages of a worker, or better still it is the employer that determines the wages of a worker...and it has been found that the wages that employers pay their workers are unjustly too low - some 30% are even paid below poverty line wages, and that is the reason why there must be intervention by the government and we need a Minimum Wage Act that will fix minimum wages that employers are supposed to pay their workers. This is not a new thing, as already the Employment Act already determines the minimum rights that all workers are entitled to - i.e. paid annual leave, paid sick/medical/hospitalization leave, paid maternity leave, working hours, overtime rates, etc. Setting the minimum wage would just be an extension of already what we have in the law. Countries like India, for example, have had a minimum wage law since 1950's. The lack of a minimum wage law shows the UMNO-led BN government to be pro-employer and not pro-worker. They said they will do, and they are still procrastinating. I have suggested that as a matter of policy, the government can fix a minimum wage now ....whilst we wait for the Act to be drafted, passed...and become a law.

Foreign workers may enjoy a minimum wage salary scale just like local workers if the private sectors minimum wage model is implemented, said Human Resource Minister S. Subramaniam.

Subramaniam said the current wage scale for foreign workers was determined by market forces and expected to continue until the government decides on the minimum wage implementation.

“Any request to implement the minimum wage system now cannot be entertained before the implementation because Malaysia does not have a structured minimum wage model for local workers,” he told reporters after closing a minimum wage laboratory to gather feedback from all stakeholders, in Putrajaya today.

Subramaniam who was asked to comment on Indonesian media reports that requested the Malaysian government to set a minimum wage scale for Indonesian maids said: “When there is no minimum wage structure for local workers, the government cannot allow a minimum wage request for foreign workers.”

He added that the only sector that offers a similar wage scale for local workers and foreign workers was the plantation sector.

Asked why it was taking the government such a long time to decide on the minimum wage scheme, Subramaniam said it was a major policy issue that needed an in-depth study before any decision was made.

“We have gathered feedback and data from various government agencies. We now have a complete picture of the various sectors involved and details that can be used by the government to decide.

“The salient points from the discussions during the lab will go towards the drafting of the regulations governing the National Wage Consultative Council, which will be tabled in Parliament,” he said.-Bernama - Malaysiakini, Komunitikini, 14/2/2011, Foreign workers might have similar minimum wage with local workers

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