By Adrian Lim
KUCHING, July 11: Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) is urging the federal government to revise the minimum wage, especially for workers in the urban areas.
MTUC secretary general J Solomon in a press statement said the minimum wage especially for those working in the urban areas is unrealistic considering the increasing cost of living.
“With the new Poverty Line Index (PLI) set at RM2,208, the government must now acknowledge that the minimum wage of RM1,100-RM1,200, especially for urban areas is not realistic nor in tandem with the cost of living.
“As the poverty index is now set at more than RM2,000, surely the minimum wage must also be adjusted accordingly.
“Considering that the poverty line should include having the resources to lead a healthy, active and dignified life and being able to participate meaningfully in society, MTUC strongly urges the government to revisit the low minimum wage and bring it on par to the living wage proposed by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM),” he said in a press statement.
Solomon stated that BNM has estimated that up to 27 per cent of the households living in Kuala Lumpur are earning below the living wage — the level of income needed for a household to afford a minimum acceptable standard of living.
Apart from that, Solomon said the federal government’s figures also showed that there is income inequality and it is widening.
He believed the inequality situation must be addressed promptly and not be left to ‘market forces’ or other ‘lame excuses’ offered by employers and politicians to be dealt with.
He asserted the wealth disparity in Malaysia has grown wider, as the workers’ share of the nation’s prosperity has been reduced significantly despite being the front liners in building the country.
In the meantime, Solomon said MTUC welcomed the federal government’s decision to revise the national PLI substantially, from a monthly household income of RM980 to RM2,208 which meant the country’s poverty rate is now at a more realistic rate of 5.6 per cent.
He said MTUC is happy that there were enough voices of reason within Putrajaya to make those important adjustments as the 0.4 per cent poverty rate that stood previously was based on a methodology of calculation which failed to capture the gravity of the problem.
Therefore, he said MTUC believed the federal government would agree the new national poverty line of RM2,208 could be further improved, considering the benchmark is for a family of four to live actively and healthily.
He opined that the new PLI was to cater for the high cost of living in urban areas whereby 75 per cent of Malaysians are employed, with many of them on low paying jobs and burdened with high household debts due to the spiralling cost of living.—DayakDaily