'Workers not paid enough to meet normal standard of living'
Newly-elected MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon has claimed that Malaysia's workers are not being paid the right amount to manage the increasing cost of living.
According to MTUC, Solomon noted that a large population of workers are living on borrowed income - the nation's household debt in the middle of last year was at 89.9% of the gross domestic product according to Bank Negara.
He is of the opinion that the minimum wage should be revised to RM1,500 and standardised between Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia. Solomon added that the salaries of other workers should also be elevated proportionately after the minimum wage is implemented as the increase in prices post the minimum wage will also affect these workers.
“MTUC appreciates the fact that the Government has implemented the minimum wage, however, the amount of RM 1,000.00 is not sufficient and has not taken into consideration the Goods and Service Tax (GST) and the cost of controlled good that has already arisen this year,” he added.
However, Solomon felt that the current minimum wage (RM1,000 for Peninsular Malaysia (RM1,000), and RM920 for Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan) is still inadequate given the rapidly rising cost of living including the cost of controlled goods.
He further pointed out that the National Wages Consultative Council (NWCC) is supposed to review the minimum wage every two years taking into consideration all factors relating to economy. Despite that, workers were denied a revision for 18 months as the review of RM 1,000 was only effected on 1 July 2016.
The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) to set up new service centre
In a separate interview, MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon said that the new centre will allow the union to reach out to a larger population of workers.
According to MUTC, Solomon added that strengthening unity is one of the main aims of the centre as trade unions are the true strength of the workers.
He is of the opinion that MTUC needs to take consistent, organised and coordinated positions on all matters affecting workers in the country.
Solomon added that the congress must be more effectively organised and MTUC must make genuine efforts to improve in order to bring all trade unions in the country (approximately 733 trade unions) under one umbrella to serve workers better.
“In trade unions, the bigger the membership the stronger the bargaining power for unions to serve the workers. Therefore, there is a dire need for the MTUC to organise more workers for Malaysians to progress,” Solomon said.
He pointed out that more effective and genuine data collection and representation must be developed through social dialogues in order to address some of the pressing issues, adding that issues such as labour laws and policies, unemployment, and skills development need to be discussed.
Solomon said MTUC is willing to work with the government and employers to strengthen the labour market, provide social security and guarantee jobs in building a high income and developed nation.