- Minimum wage council under fire
- ‘Minimum wage bill a let-down’
Posted: 21 Jun 2011 11:04 PM PDT
Source: Free Malaysia Today
Syed Jaymal Zahiid | June 22, 2011
The setting up of the NWCC is redundant, a waste of public funds and it introduces another bureaucratic layer in wage determination, says Klang MP Charles Santiago.
KUALA LUMPUR: The proposed National Wages Consultative Council (NWCC) has come under fire from unionists and opposition MPs who described it as an added "bureaucratic layer" to an already questionable government will to implement a minimum wage policy.
The NWCC Bill was tabled in Parliament for first reading yesterday after the Najib administration conceded that giving workers decent salaries is pivotal to realise its aim to drive the nation's per capita income up on par with rich countries. The government has vowed that a minimum wage policy will be implemented by year end.
But unionists are perplexed by the government's logic in creating the council when the longstanding issue of providing Malaysian workers with decent living wages can be instantly addressed by introducing a minimum wage law.
"The setting up of the NWCC is redundant, a waste of public funds and it introduces another bureaucratic layer in wage determination," Klang DAP parliamentarian Charles Santiago, a trained economist and leading advocate for a floor wage policy, told reporters in Parliament today.
Another contention to the NWCC is the alleged lack of independence and autonomy in the council.
Members of the NWCC will be appointed by the human resources minister and they will conduct studies and make recommendations to the government on minimum wages. The minister has the final say and the council's suggestions are not binding.
Santiago said this can lead to abuse and suggested a tripartite system, a practice popularly used in rich economies and recommended by the International Labour Organisation, be implemented to ensure non-partisanship in the council.
A tripartite system involves the employers, employees and a third independent party comprising individuals that meet a set of specified criteria with their appointments based on a rotation system.
The criteria must include knowledge of labour laws, experience in analysis of complex national issues while those seen to have vested interests and incapable of making independent judgements must be disqualified.
Appointments must also include consultations with stakeholders, workers and employers reserving the right to veto up to one-third of the total number of nominations.
"This leaves in the end an independent group that is acceptable to both employers and employees to help bring a minimum wage figure that is acceptable to all," said Santiago.
This is a workers' agenda
The NWCC Bill also made no mention or definition of a minimum wage which the Klang MP said will defeat the purpose of the council which is supposed to determine wages. This, he noted, can lead to further abuse.
Santiago said various references can be drawn from countries like Indonesia and South Korea whose workers enjoy strong protection from robust labour policies.
Both countries, which have outdone Malaysia in economic performance, have clear cut minimum wage laws that defined the term as meeting the need for decent living.
This definition must also include cost of living, wages comparable workers and labour productivity.
"This is not a political agenda. This is a workers' agenda. I think its about time we help them get out of the poverty line, which is not a new issue," former Malaysian Trade Union Congress president Syed Shahir told the press conference.
The NWCC Bill is expected to be tabled for second reading in the coming session with the opposition gearing up for a heated parliamentary gabfest.
Posted: 21 Jun 2011 02:53 AM PDT
Source: Free Malaysia Today
Patrick Lee | June 21, 2011
All the hype and promises by the government have not helped salvage the proposed minimum wage from being a major disappointment, DAP said.
Klang MP Charles Santiago said that the bill, which was tabled for its first reading in Parliament today, did not have anything to say about a minimum wage itself.
"They (the human resources ministry) should define what a minimum wage is. It's disappointing that after all the hype, the bill doesn't say anything about a minimum wage," said Santiago.
The DAP economist also said that except for the introduction of the NWCC, much of the Employment Act remained the same.
According to the bill, the NWCC's responsibility is to come up with recommendations for the human resources minister to set minimum wages for the country.
However, the bill states that it is up to the minister to accept these recommendations. A refusal to do so, it added, would force the council to review these recommendations.
But Santiago said that a such council should not wait on the minister's word for the approval of a minimum wage.
He also took a swipe at the representation of government servants in the NWCC.
He raised concerns about the "at least five other members" of the council, and speculated that these places would be filled by former "directors-general" or other ministerial officials.
Santiago said that these positions should be filled by academics, industrial relations experts or labour lawyers who could contribute with honesty and impartiality.
"The biggest fear is that these places would be filled by all these Tan Sri and Datuks," he said.
Posted: 21 Jun 2011 02:48 AM PDT
Posted: 21 Jun 2011 02:40 AM PDT
Posted: 21 Jun 2011 02:34 AM PDT
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