Joint Press Statement by Civil Society Organisations on 14 September 2018.
We, the undersigned civil society organisations, urge the Pakatan Harapan Government to review its decision fixing the new minimum wage at RM1,050, and to protect workers’ right to just and favourable remuneration.
“The Prime Minister’s argument that the Government cannot afford a higher minimum wage because it has debts to pay, but the vast majority of workers on minimum wage are in the private sector” said Aegile Fernandez of Tenaganita.
“At the moment low wages are effectively subsidizing the success of companies operating in Malaysia”, she continued. “After the election Malaysian citizens were asked to reach into their pockets to address the country’s debt crisis. It is alarming that the Prime Minister is not willing to ask the Malaysian businesses that employ minimum wages to reach into their pockets and address the wages crisis.”
“The simple fact is that workers on the minimum wage cannot afford a mere RM 50 increase.”
Others have noted that the decision arguably at odds with Malaysia’s international obligations under International Labour Organisation’s Minimum Wage Fixing Convention, which Malaysia ratified in June 2016.
“Article 3 of that Convention states that minimum wage calculations should take into account the needs of workers and their families, cost of living, social protection advantages, requirement of economic development, productivity growth and level of employment” said N. Gopal Krishnam of National Union of Transport Equipment and Allied Industries Workers.
“Given Bank Negara’s 2016 estimate that a single adult living in Kuala Lumpur would need RM 2,700 to meaningfully participate in life, it’s clear that the cost of living have not being given sufficient weight in this calculation.”
The Pakatan Harapan made promises of holistic reforms of social, economic and political policies, imparting an inescapable responsibility to protect people’s social rights in any decision-making process. It is not an exaggeration to call this decision an abrogation of that responsibility.
We would like to remind the government that Article of 23 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that every worker has right to just and favourable remuneration to ensure a life of dignity and social protection.
The fact that the two major political coalitions entered GE14 with a commitment to raise the minimum wage to RM1,500 within 5 years’ time shows that the huge support working Malaysians have for this policy. Reaching this target at subsequent negotiations of the National Wage Consultative Group will be increasingly politically difficult.
“There should be no delay; Malaysians need a pay rise today, and we demand the Council undertake a comprehensive review immediately to achieve this.”
Jointly endorsed by :
1. Agora Society
3. Asosasyon ng mga Makabayang Manggagawang Pilipino Overseas (AMMPO) – Malaysia
4. Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI)
5. Citizens’ Health Initiative
6. Civil Rights Committee of KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
7. Community Development Centre (CDC)
8. Foreign Spouses Support Group (FSSG)
9. Group of Concerned Citizens (GCC)
10. Hindu Youth Organisation Port Klang
11. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
12. Johor Yellow Flame
13. Kesatuan Pekerja-Pekerja Indah Water Konsortium Sdn Bhd
14. Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)
15. Monitoring Sustainability of Globalisation (MSN)
16. National Union of Transport Equipment and Allied Industries Workers (NUTEAIW)
17. North South Initiative
19. Persatuan Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia (Proham)
20. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
21. Pertubuhan Pembangunan Sosio-ekonomi Golongan Miskin Malaysia
22. Pertubuhan Titian Digital Malaysia
23. Plantation Resource Centre (PRC)
24. Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group
25. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia
26. SENTRO ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa
27. Socialist Alliance
28. Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM)
29. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
30. Sunflower Electoral Education (SEED)
32. Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
1. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)