IPOH, March 14 — Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said he is not empowered to unilaterally alter the minimum monthly wage of RM1,100 as it was decided in consultation with the National Wages Consultative Council.
He also said the wage level could only rise despite calls for the government to reduce this.
Kulasegaran then reiterated the Pakatan Harapan government’s commitment to its election pledge for a RM1,500 minimum wage.
“(The amount) is not decided by the minister. (The council) has to look at it (but) a lot of people still do not understand. I do not have the right or power to determine or fix the minimum wage,” he told Malay Mail.
“The council has various stakeholders including employers and employees who will deliberate the matter with government officers, have townhall sessions around the country which they have done every two years. Once it is done, they will make recommendations to the ministry and the minister will present it to Cabinet which will then announce the final figure,” he added.
The council is headed by former Court of Appeal judge Tan Sri Steve Shim.
The Ipoh Barat MP was previously represented by some media outlets as saying the government would review the minimum wage rates according to job sectors in response to employer complaints.
Speaking to Malay Mail, he clarified his response to a participant at a dialogue in Sabah who lamented that the minimum wage was too high.
“I said employers cannot go below the minimum wage. That is the law. Those found not paying RM1,100, they will be hauled up by the ministry and taken to court,” he added.
Kulasegaran also stressed that the RM1,100 minimum wage did not mean employers could not or should not pay workers more.
“It does not prohibit collective agreement from being done to make it higher. Just make sure it does not go lower. That must be understood as that is the protection given by the government of the day,” he added.
On the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) Perak’s suggestion for the minimum wage to be implemented only in limited areas instead of nationwide, Kulasegaran said he would leave it to the National Labour Advisory Council to decide.
Malay Mail previously reported FMM chairman Datuk Gan Tack Kong as suggesting that this be implemented according to the urban-rural divide and arguing that living costs differed according to areas.