Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Council To Look Into Salaries Of Electronics, Textile Sectors

Putrajaya : The days of low wages for workers in the electronics and textile sectors may soon be over.

The Human Resources Ministry has given a directive for a wage council to be set up to look into the salaries of workers in both these sectors after receiving complaints that they "consistently received low wages."

Its minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said several commission of inquiries and wage councils had been formed previously to look into issues of minimum wages for workers in several sectors, such as security guards, clinic assistants, hotel and catering and general workers in small holdings.

"The ministry is currently undertaking steps to look into wages in the electronics and textile sectors. The wage council will conduct a nationwide inquiry by interviewing workers in these two industries and come up with recommendations."

"We hope they will be able to finish their work by the end of next year," he told reporters Tuesday after receiving a memorandum on minimum wage from MTUC at his office here in conjunction of the World Day for Decent Work.

A similar wage council had recently approved a minimum wage for private security guards of between RM250 to RM700 to help ease their burden.

Subramaniam said while the Government did not agree on the implementation of a minimum wage for all workers, it recognised that it was necessary to offer decent salaries as the country was losing its skilled employees to its competitors.

"We are losing our skilled workers to Singapore and the Middle East. We may end up losing even more so we must come up with attractive salaries as a way of persuading them to stay on."

"I have requested the Malaysian Employers' Federation to come up with guidelines on what is the appropriate salary for workers in the different areas in the private sector and how to implement them," he said, adding that the ministry would also continue to hold dialogues with both employers and workers in sectors, which were not covered by the work of such councils.

He said the ministry was also taking steps to reduce the presence of foreign workers in the country, adding that the Cabinet had agreed on reducing the numbers by at least 500,000 persons and was thinking of ways and means of accomplishing this without it affecting businesses and the economy.

MTUC president Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud said the union would continue to pressure the Government on the issue of minimum wage of RM900 monthly for all workers despite the setting up of the wage councils.

"The wage councils are a separate issue for us and we are not against it. However, last year’s increase in salaries for civil servants have had a positive impact."

"So, we hope it's time to give those working in the private sector a similar increase as well," he said, adding that the memorandum also touched on the possible spillover effects of the financial crisis in United States and Europe on the workers here.

Besides minimum wage, the memorandum touched on issues such as unions and productivity-linked wage systems.

Taken from The Star Online 7 October 2008

By Sim Leoi Leoi

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