Thursday, 23 June 2011

A Useless Wages Council Bill ... unsupportive of workers

24 June, 2011

Urgency for action to prevent the Bill
Charles Santiago (Klang MP), Syed Sharir (Ex-MTUC chief), Roszeli (MTUC) and Irene (PSWS) made quick responses to it in a press conference yesterday. We have got a copy of the Bill and are sending it out for your information. We are calling for a meeting to discuss our responses and actions to this Bill on today at 3.30 p.m.. The Bill will be debated on Monday or Tuesday and that is why we are rushing. The Pakatan MPs will discuss their strategy as regards this Bill today and we were told that they will be advised to oppose it. We on our part need to make it clear to the government that we oppose it as well. The trade unions of course have a great influence if they choose to show their opposition to it. Otherwise the Bill will probably be passed in this session as the BN has majority.

Employers angry coz - to pay hefty fine
As you will see the Bill is extrememly useless on all points. In addition it has irked the opposition of the Employers by specifiying a fine of RM 10,000 for non-compliance for each worker who is paid less than the minimum wage and the employers are reacting. This will give the Minister an excuse to cut down or remove this clause.

Irene Xavier
President, PSWS

22 June, 2011
Yesterday Parliament had its first taste of the National Wages Consultative Council (NWCC) Bill. This morning we were in Parliament to have a press conference where we collected the Bill and after having a look at it ... its a useless piece of legislation ... it does not support a minimum wage for workers!

This is why its a useless Bill?
1.  It does not have a definition of a minimum wage.
2.  The minister has absolute power to reject the wage recommendations of the NWCC.
3.  The minister is the one who chooses who should be in this Council - how can this be fair to workers? The Minister made a fiasco of minimum wage of security guards by paying them below the poverty line of RM720. How can we trust the Minister?
4.  The Council is merely a research tool for the Minister! It has no power... no teeth!
5.  The minimum wage varies according to area, type of work, etc - this is unacceptable. There should be just one decent living wage.

Tripartite Council
Charles Santiago, MP for Klang suggested in today's press conference a working model for a Council based on the Korean experience. The Council, has representatives from the employers and the unions. Both these parties will choose members from the government or from the academia to be the third party to negotiate the decent living wage. The Council suggests a figure to the Minister and if the Minister rejects it, it returns to the Council for debate and the figure they propose has to be approved for implementation. This system helps the employers and employees to come to a workable figure and if they are at loggerheads the third party helps to sort out issues. It is a fair system of negotiation than the present lobbying of the Minister by the employers.

How can the government drag its leg on this? The World Bank has reported that wages in Malaysia has increased only by 2.3% per annum. This is pathetic!!!!

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