Minister: Govt mulling different minimum wages according to sectors

Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran speaks during launch of National Wage Index in Putrajaya February 19, 2019. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana
Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran speaks during launch of National Wage Index in Putrajaya February 19, 2019. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

KOTA KINABALU, Feb 25 — Putrajaya will look at reviewing the minimum wage after complaints that the new rate has caused businesses to close down or lay off workers, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said today.

The Minister said that they will look into setting different minimum wages according to sectors that will take into account the current realities of each sector, including those that may not be able to sustain the increased rate.

“We will consider minimum wage based on sectors, for example, or plantations, hotels and coffee shops among others to be based on a more realistic minimum wage,” he said when speaking to reporters after a meeting with employers from the Sabah chapter of Malaysian Employers Federation here.

Based on feedback, he said that some sectors found the increase to be too steep of a jump and triggered higher cost of operations.

Kulasegaran said that the issue would be studied further before being brought to the Cabinet to decide.

The current minimum wage is set at RM1,100 from RM920 for all sectors and Kulasegaran said some businesses have had to lay off workers or close shop.

Kulasegaran also said that his ministry is looking to update various labour laws, including the Labour Act, Employment Act, Trade Unions Act, Human Resource Development Fund Act, Employment Insurance Act and Minimum Housings Standards Act among others.

“Most of the Acts are outdated and need to be amended to reflect the current labour force,” he said, adding that his ministry will meet the Sabah government, Sabah employers, workers unions and other stakeholders to update the Sabah Labour Ordinance in accordance to the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

He said that he was aware of calls to set up a Sabah Labour Action Council to meet specific and practical requirements faced in the state, as such labour issues were different from those in peninsular Malaysia.

Kulasegaran said that he was also ready to discuss with stakeholders on the amendments to the Sabah law Ordinance to update it in line with the Employment Act and other laws that were not extended to Sabah.