MTUC Sarawak feels vindicated by Bank Negara’s report

Andrew Lo

KUCHING, March 28: Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has finally divulged that workers in Malaysia are not adequately compensated for their work.

Highlighting this, Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) Sarawak secretary Andrew Lo said he was pleased that a research report by BNM, which was released yesterday (March 27), echoed what MTUC had been saying all along — employees have been shortchanged.

Governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus said the research indicated that Malaysian workers were paid a third less for a comparable level of productivity benchmarked against their counterparts in the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany and Singapore.

The study found that if a Malaysian worker produces output worth US$1,000 (RM4,079), the worker would be paid US$340 (RM1,387) for it. The corresponding wage received by a worker in benchmarked economies for producing the same output is higher, at US$510 (RM2,080).

“We feel vindicated. The challenge now is to formulate robust policy measures to bring about meaningful change,” Lo said in a press statement today.

“There must be greater empowerment of workers and recognition of trade unions to enable them to bargain for fair wages.”

Lo added that there must also be a strong political will to stand up to employers and their powerful lobby and move ahead with labour law reforms.

“Employers must stop their fearmongering and realise their incessant whining has led us to this unsustainable situation,” he pointed out.

Lo urged workers and trade unions to grasp this opportunity to push for change, including embracing international labour standards and practices, as the current trade union structure was not effective anymore.

Meanwhile, BNM has called for a comprehensive reform of the country’s employment sector to attract quality investments that could generate more high-skilled jobs and offer better salaries.

Commenting on the findings, Nor Shamsiah pointed out that high skills and high-wage job creations were crucial to Malaysia’s aspirations towards a high-income economy.

The study found that from 2010 to 2017, the number of low-skilled and low-wage jobs grew by 4.6 per cent, while high-skilled and high-wage jobs grew by just 2.8 per cent. This was coupled with the expansion of labour-intensive industries, which pay relatively low wages.

“Hence, comprehensive reforms are critical in attracting quality investments to generate more high-skilled jobs and workers.

“Beyond that, we need to reduce labour mismatches, improve labour laws and ensure that wages reflect productivity,” she added. — DayakDaily