Posted: 20 Jan 2011 08:20 PM PST
Posted: 20 Jan 2011 06:26 PM PST
Source: Free Malaysia Today
Patrick Lee | January 19, 2011
The miminum wage has come into effect but the DAP points out that it is pittance for the security guards.
He added that the wage, which took effect on Jan 1, was still below the RM720 poverty line drafted by the Ministry of Human Resources.
"The RM700 wage is forcing workers to live below the poverty line. How can you live on RM720 a month? It's not possible to raise a family with that amount," Santiago told FMT.
He said that many security guards were already receiving wages that were within the RM700 range.
"I have spoken to many security guards, and a number of them already earn from RM450 to RM700 a month. If they work overtime, 12 hours a day, seven days a week, they might be able to get RM1,200 a month," the Klang MP said.
More than 100,000 security guards in Malaysia will benefit from the government-set minimum wage by the end of the month.
Although applauded by certain quarters such as the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) as a step in the right direction, many security companies were unhappy with the wage change.
Some have argued that they were not be able to afford the wage increase.
This reluctance to raise workers' salaries irked the DAP economist, who accused these companies of focusing on profits instead of their employees' welfare.
"These companies just want to keep their profits," Santiago said, adding that many of these companies brought in foreign workers to keep wages low, and rake in the cash at the same time.
He added that unlike locals who had families to feed, foreign workers only came to Malaysia to make money.
"With the amount of migrant workers in Malaysia, wages will always be low. So local workers are at the mercy of their employers," he said, adding that many foreign guards had come from Nepal.
Santiago said that employers had lobbied repeatedly against the idea of a minimum wage. This in turn influenced the government's decision to keep the wage at RM700.
"Employers are short-sighted. They don't think about the sustainability of the company," he said.
Santiago also said that if the government wanted to see an average annual income of US$15,000 by 2020, it needed to set a proper minimum wage as soon as possible.
"If you don't use minimum wage now, you'll never get to the US$15,000 amount," he said.
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