Charles Santiago

Posted by : Unknown | Ahad, 12 Jun 2011 | Published in

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Charles Santiago

Set up an independent wage council, urges MP

Posted: 12 Jun 2011 08:07 PM PDT

Source :- Malaysiakini
The council to be set up under the proposed National Wage Consultative Council Bill must be autonomous and independent from the government, said an opposition MP.

The new bill, which is to replace the Salary Determination Council Act 1947, is expected to be tabled, debated and passed at next week’s Parliament sitting.

The council, once approved by the House, is to coordinate and determine the minimum wage for private sector workers to overcome the hike in living costs following the recent subsidy rationalisation.

"However, first of all, we want it to be called the National Decent Living Wage Council instead," said Klang DAP MP Charles Santiago (right).

The reason, he said, is that the earnings of a high percentage of Malaysians are below the poverty line and minimum wages could be determined from that basis.

This is on top of the call to ensure that the council is independent and free from the government’s leash, he added.

"The government here has a way of ensuring, in the end, that they have the final say, and is usually biased towards the employers," said Charles.

"The World Bank report states that 34 percent of the workers in the country are earning an average of RM700 per month which is below the poverty line of RM720," he said.

He pointed out that the working class has been burdened with stagnant wages for at least the past decade, with wages going up by just 2.6 percent between 2000 and 2010.

Looking ahead, Charles called for a consultation group of experts from the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and South Korea to draw up a proposal to determine "decent living wages" as an immediate measure to help the working class.

Council to have the last word

"The parties sitting on the council should be representative of the employers, workers and independ appointments.

"The council will then forward their proposals to the government, which if agreeable, will be implemented. If the government does not agree, it can send them back to the council for a second round of negotiations, but the council has the last word," he said.

He explained that a decent living wage is divided into three key components – food, non-food and savings.

This mechanism has been successful implemented in the Philippines and Indonesia.

After the mechanism proposed is finalised tomorrow, Charles said that the Decent Living Wages Campaign will be flagged off.

"We all talk of combating corruption but for the man-on-the-street they are thinking of how to pay their bills.

"They need a solution tonight, so that they can put food on the table for their family in the morning. Some take on two to three jobs in order to earn enough," he added.

Charles reiterated that a "decent living wage" proposal should include a minimum wage of between RM1,500 and RM2,000 for the working class.

Go for decent living wage policy

Posted: 12 Jun 2011 08:00 PM PDT

Source :- Free Malaysia Today 

G.Vinod  June 11, 2011

Compared to a minimum wage policy which is a short-term remedy, a decent living wage will ensure workers’ wages are on par with current economic reality.

PETALING JAYA: A decent living wage policy should be the way forward for governments in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and South Korea to give workers better security.

Several trade activists from these countries said it was high time that the respective governments scrapped the minimum wage policy and implement the decent living wage policy.

At a roundtable conference here, they said that a decent living wage policy would help workers cope with the economic realities of their respective countries in real time.

Also present were Klang MP Charles Santiago and Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) secretary-general S Arutchelvan.

The Philippine National Wages and Productivity Commission deputy executive director Patricia Hornilla said that a decent living wage has a more holistic approach in addressing workers' needs compared to a minimum wage.

"A decent living wage will ensure a worker has funds for savings and investing in social security schemes," said Hornilla.

She added that such a salary scheme would take into consideration the workers' dependants such as their immediate family members.

However, Hornilla said it was important that all parties involved in implementing the policy – the government, employers and employees – come to a mutual understanding.

She said that the parties could come up with clear criteria on how the wages should be adjusted from time to time.

"This will help employers be prepared. It will also deter employees from having unrealistic expectations over their wage adjustments."

She also said that employers should not argue about productivity when it came to addressing the basic needs of their workers.

"Productivity should only be taken into consideration when considering increments," she said.

Lack of political will

Thailand's Arom Pongpangan Foundation-Labour Resource Centre director Bundit Thanachaisethavut said that unlike a decent living wage, a minimum wage only served to protect those who were fresh in the workforce for a certain period of time.

"But a decent wage policy takes into consideration cost of living, skills upgrade and sustainability," said Thanachaisethavut.

However, he said that the new policy could only materialise if the unions were strong.

Santiago agreed that a decent living wage scheme was the way to move forward in these current times.

"In many countries, the minimum wage is set even below the povery line. However, a decent living wage will ensure the worker has money for food, non-food items and savings," he said.

Santiago said the new policy would automatically ensure the workers receive a wage above the poverty line.

Asked whether the unions would face opposition from employers over the new plan, the DAP MP said currently there was a lack of political will in addressing the workers' wages.

However, he said that although initially employers might find it tough to implement the new wage policy, they would benefit in the long run.

"With higher purchasing power, people will have means to buy more goods which will eventually be beneficial to our economy due to higher domestic consumption," Santiago said.

The government is set to table the National Wage Consultative Council Bill when Parliament begin its sitting on Monday.

Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam said the council would be empowered to make recommendations on workers' wages once the Bill is passed.

According to a World Bank report, about 34% of Malaysians earn wages below RM700, which is below the Malaysian poverty line benchmark of RM720.

Wage council should be autonomous

Posted: 12 Jun 2011 07:57 PM PDT

Source :- Free Malaysia Today
G Vinod June 12, 2011

PETALING JAYA: The council under the proposed National Consultative Wages Council Bill should be the decision making body on workers' wages, not the government.

Several opposition parties and NGOs came to this resolution yesterday, in the final phase of the roundtable conference at a hotel in Petaling Jaya.

Those in support of the resolution were Suaram, Tenaganita, Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM), DAP and PKR.

Also present at the conference yesterday were foreign delegates from Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea and Klang MP Charles Santiago.

Human Resource Minister Dr S Subramaniam is set to table the National Wage Consultative Council Bill when Parliament begins its sitting on Monday.

He said the council would be empowered to make recommendations on workers' wages once the Bill was passed

Santiago said the current bill, if passed, would only empower the council to make recommendations to the government on wage adjustments for workers.

"And the human resources minister will still have a final say on it," he added.

Not only the council should be autonomous, Santiago also said that only labour movements, employers and independent individuals should be allowed to be members of the council.

He added that the independent individuals should be appointed to the council based on mutual consensus between the employers and workers.

"And these individuals should be those who are familiar with labour issues such as labour lawyers and labour academics, not some retired civil servants or those still in service," he said.

Touching on the decent living wage policy, the DAP leader said that small and medium enterprises (SME) could be exempted from the policy at least for a certain period of time.

"The government can allow them some time lapse until they are financially sound to implement the policy. But for some very small businesses, we can exempt them from it," he said.

On June 11, the delegates called upon Asean governments to scrap the minimum wage policy and introduce the decent living wage policy for workers.

Unlike the minimum wage policy which normally sets the wage benchmark below the poverty line, the decent living wage policy would take into consideration the living needs of a worker, such as funds for food and non-food, savings and their immediate family members.

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