Saturday, January 19, 2013

Many workers deprived right to Minimum Wages from 1st January 2013


When workers earning less than minimum wages should be the priority, this government fails in its duty to workers

In 2009, the government survey involving over a million Malaysian workers found that 34% of the workers were receiving wages of RM700 or less, which was below the poverty line income

The National Employment Returns 2009, 34% of 1.3 million workers in the study earn less than RM700. The poverty income line for 2009, for Sabah (RM1048) and Sarawak (RM912), whilst for Peninsular Malaysia it is RM763. Malaysia's average poverty line income then was RM800. - Charles Hector Blog

This caused the Malaysian government to step in to protect the welfare of workers in Malaysia, by finally introducing a Minimum Wage in Malaysia - RM900 for workers in Peninsular Malaysia, and RM800 for workers in Sabah and Sarawak. 
3 years later, the government came out with the Minimum Wages Order 2012 on 16/7/2012, and provided that workers with employers having more than 5 workers would have to ensure all their workers are paid minimum wages as of 1/1/2013, and for the rest by 1/7/2013. Probationers were discriminated against and their entitlement was only 70% of  the Minimum Wages stipulated. Unlike the past, where probationers are generally new workers just out of school, today probationers include a lot of workers of many years of work. This was because of the short-term employment contracts, retrenchment and termination forgetting that this category of workers also have family/dependents and financial obligations similar to any other worker. Further, Malaysian law still do not provide for any fixed or maximum probation period, and the power to confirm lies with the employer - meaning some workers may still be considered even after years of employment.

Then, recently the government came out with the Minimum Wages (Amendment) Order 2012 on 28/12/2013 which exempted some employers from complying with the 1st January 2013 dead line - some have been given until 1st April, some until 1st July and some even until 1st October 2013. Worst affected are hotel employees for their entitlement for minimum wages is now 1st October 2013. 

Exemption was given to employers who were Hotels(including Budget Hotels), Security Service Providers, Bus Operators and over 600 other employers. Worse was that these exemptions were given on employer's application, whereby workers never got the right to be heard or to challenge the said applications. No data was also given in the Order as to the additional monies that will be expended by these employers if they were to pay their workers 'minimum wages', the number of workers affected, or even the profits now being made by these employers all of which would be relevant information. Some of these hotels, security service providers may be earning large profits...

Worst still is that many employers are attempting to include allowances and other benefits into the calculation of minimum wages. Minimum Wages is with regard to basic wages alone - i.e. for 8 hours work,...Sadly the government's National Wage Consultative Council came out on 6th September with an odd Guideline on the implementation of the Minimum Wage, which was also certified by the Minister. These was just a Guideline, which really was not legally enforceable but it gave employers ideas.... bad ideas certainly not in favour of workers.

Meanwhile, since July 2012, many 'bad' employers have been trying to get workers to sign agreements that will effectively deprive them of some existing benefits like allowances and other benefits. End result, there may be no increase in take-home pay, or even in some cases a decrease. Workers with UNIONs are in a better position, as they could deal and negotiate as a collective force BUT workers with NO TRADE UNIONS are easily 'forced' to agree to new pay schemes... and many employers will deal with workers individually.. Workers on 'fixed term employment contracts' also really have no choice for a refusal may mean non-extension or offer of a new employment contract at the workplace...

WORKERS AT WORKPLACES SHOULD NOT SIGN ANY NEW AGREEMENT OR PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO EXISTING AGREEMENTS - ONCE YOU SIGN, YOU EFFECTIVELY LOSE YOUR RIGHTS - Of course, this government did not come out with any GUIDELINES for workers(but there was a FAQ in Bahasa Malaysia only which is inadequate as to rights to object, and what to do when no agreement can be reached, or when workers who disagree are not continued to be employed) - They should have the right to refer the matter to the Labour Departments, who should then step in to ensure that workers are not cheated of their rights by some employers.... BUT wait, our labour Ministry is now called the 'Human Resources Ministry' - and the name says it is no more the Ministry that will protect and fight for the welfare of workers - but is more concerned with Employer's Human Resources. Now, the new priority and concern is 'Industrial Harmony' - no more JUSTICE or RIGHTS...

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