MTUC: Budget 2020 failed to address widening income gap

MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon said despite welcoming the government’s decision to raise the minimum wage to RM1,200 for major cities, the amount will not be enough to cover the rising cost of living. — Picture by Farhan Najib
MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon said despite welcoming the government’s decision to raise the minimum wage to RM1,200 for major cities, the amount will not be enough to cover the rising cost of living. — Picture by Farhan Najib

PETALING JAYA, Oct 11 — The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) said today’s Budget 2020 failed to address the widening income gap and the pressure on low-income groups, particularly the B40s and M40s.

Its secretary-general J. Solomon said despite welcoming the government’s decision to raise the minimum wage to RM1,200 for major cities, the amount will not be enough to cover the rising cost of living.

He said MTUC expects a minimum wage increase of at least RM1,800 and hopes the government will conduct a six-month study to consider raising the minimum wage.

“MTUC is aware of the government’s amendments to the Employment Act which would extend overtime pay to those earning up to RM4,000 a month compared to RM2,000 now.

“However, the union is disappointed that the government did not introduce a RM500 cost of living allowance (COLA) for private workers as recommended by MTUC.

“We are of the opinion that COLA will be much better at protecting workers than just increasing the eligibility of receiving overtime pay,” Solomon said in a statement today.

He was responding to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s announcement that the minimum wage will be raised to RM1,200 starting January 2020 but will be limited to workers in major cities in the country when tabling Budget 2020 in Parliament today.

On another matter, Solomon said MTUC welcomes the decision to increase the maternity leave from 60 days to 90 days by 2021.

“Although MTUC is seeking 98 days in the proposed amendment to the Employment Act, the move to increase the maternity leave is in line with practices in many countries,” he said, adding that the practice has been advocated by MTUC for a long time.

In addition to that, Solomon said the union hopes that in the review of the Employment Act, the government will look into the need to introduce at least seven days’ paternity leave for maternity spouses.

He said this will increase the family’s well-being and home management when the worker’s wife gives birth.

Meanwhile, Solomon also expressed his appreciation to Malaysian unionists and workers for providing solid support to MTUC in demanding the RM500 a month COLA and to extend the retirement age to 65 for the 2020 Budget.

“Despite the proposals not being announced at this time, MTUC will continue our struggle to convince the government to implement these proposals in the near future.

“Therefore, I urge our employees not to give up because we will continue our struggle to achieve our goals,” Solomon said.

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