Minimum wage policy to be nationwide by this year

PUTRAJAYA - The highly-anticipated minimum wage policy for the private sector is expected to be fully enforced nationwide this year.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the policy would benefit some 3.2 million private sector workers in small- and medium- enterprises (SME), who on average earned less than RM700 (S$287) a month.

This means that some 33% of the Malaysian workforce currently live below the poverty line of RM763.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had said he would announce the minimum wage on May 1 to coincide with Labour Day.

"The main objective of the minimum wage policy is to fortify the purchasing power of those in the low-income bracket and to overcome issues among the working poor.

"In the long run, it aims to optimise the use of local manpower and encourage employers to move up the value chain through investments in technology and workers' productivity," Dr Subramaniam said in his speech read by his deputy Datuk Maznah Mazlan at the ministry's Excellent Service Awards 2011 ceremony at Putrajaya International Convention Centre here yesterday.

He added that the minimum wage policy was among four main programmes spearheaded by the ministry this year, including the tabling of the Private Sector Retirement Bill to increase the retirement age for private sector workers, increasing skilled courses in private institutions and developing the SME workforce.

Maznah said every Malaysian household was taking home an estimated RM21 in government subsidies every day.

In Kuala Lumpur, Security Services Association of Malaysia president Datuk Shaheen Mirza Habib appealed to the Government to exempt the security services sector from the national minimum wage ruling.

He said this was because the industry had already enforced its own minimum wage of between RM500 and RM700.

"The biggest problem is not just raising the salaries of the guards, but getting clients to agree to the new rates," he said yesterday.

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