Its leaders say that the proposal is not practical.
PETALING JAYA: Several Pakatan Rakyat leaders have poured cold water on the Malaysia Workers Network’s manifesto demanding a minimum wage of RM1,500, saying that this is not applicable to the country at the moment.
Citing a classified World Bank’s report on the implementation of minimum wage in Malaysia, PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli said the country could only afford a minimum wage of RM1,100, otherwise it would have adverse impact on the industries.
“The report stated that if the minimum wage goes beyond RM1,100, the economy would not be able to absorb [the increase],” he told FMT today.
The RM1,100 rate was proposed by Pakatan in its alternative budget.
Yesterday, the Malaysia Workers’ Network, a coalition of more than 20 trade unions, have asked for RM1,500 minimum wage in its five-point manifesto for the upcoming general election, saying that this takes into account a worker’s monthly expenses.
They also pointed out that Selangor government has adopted RM1,500 in the government-linked companies (GLCs).
Rafizi said the Selangor’s policy was not applicable to the rest of the country because each state has different level of development and different types of industry.
“If it is higher than RM1,100, it will begin to severely affect the lower-value industry and destroy jobs,” he said.
When told the Human Resources Ministry has claimed the same thing when Pakatan proposed its RM1,100 floor wage two months ago, Rafizi said: “The ministry’s statement was based on propaganda, not facts and figures, while our decision is precisely based on data.”
However, he was willing to discuss the matter with MWN by producing the data.
“My fear is that the union has not seen the data; once it has seen it , I think the union would understand,” he said.
DAP Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong said Pakatan would stick to the proposed RM1,100 rate and assist industries to upgrade from labour-intensive operations to the skill-based ones.
“The immediate challenge for Malaysia now is to reduce the number of unskilled foreign labour and move our industries to depend less on labour.
“Once skills, productivity and wage grow in tandem, a higher minimum wage is desirable,” he said.
Dzulkefly, the PAS MP who was in the Pakatan’s minimum wage research team, also said a fair wage policy was another concept pursued by the opposition pact.
He said at the moment, the salary earned by a CEO and a driver was world apart because low-ranked workers have been deprived the rights of equitable profits.
“It’s all about the willingness to share profit of the company to the public and to let workers to live with a dignity,” he said.