Putrajaya urged to add RM300 cost allowance to minimum wage

MEF executive director Shamsuddin Bardan was reported saying that employers had already accounted for rising living costs and inflation when revising wages every three years. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
MEF executive director Shamsuddin Bardan was reported saying that employers had already accounted for rising living costs and inflation when revising wages every three years. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 — A federal lawmaker urged Putrajaya today to tack on RM300 to existing minimum wage in order to bypass employers’ resistance to paying a cost of living allowance (COLA).

Kuala Langat MP Abdullah Sani made the suggestion to include the amount sought for the allowance into the minimum salary of RM900 and RM800 respectively in the peninsular and east Malaysia after the Human Resource Ministry said it could not compel employers to pay the stipend.

“We propose that COLA — which is not in the Act — be inserted into the minimum wage,” the chairman of the parliament’s bipartisan caucus on workers and foreign workers told reporters at the Parliament lobby here.

During Question Time, he also asked if the ministry could include the requested amount in the process of reviewing the implementation of the minimum wage.

But he noted the RM300 figure, which he said the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) would resist, was negotiable.

Abdullah Sani is also the deputy president of the Malaysian Trade Unions Congress (MTUC), which he said represents 1.8 million out of the estimated 11.3 million privately-employed workers nationwide.

M. Kulasegaran, the DAP MP for Ipoh Barat, disagreed with the Human Resources Ministry’s view that the MTUC should first negotiate with the MEF on the COLA before it intervenes.

Kulasegaran pointed out that only eight per cent of private sector employees are represented by MTUC, while the rest would not be able to effectively lobby their employers to pay them COLA through joint consultative committees.

“The rest of the 92 per cent is just left in the lurch,” Kulasegaran, who is also the secretary of the same parliamentary caucus, told reporters here.

He acknowledged that the lawmakers in favour of the RM300 insertion proposal could consider bringing a Private Members’ Bill to amend the current law for minimum wage.

On January 5, MEF executive director Shamsuddin Bardan was reported saying that employers had already accounted for rising living costs and inflation when revising wages every three years.

According to local daily The Star, Shamsuddin had pointed out that many employers were already finding it hard to manage higher costs after the minimum wage policy kicked in and the hike in power tariffs.

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