Tuesday January 22, 2013
Effects of minimum wage to be addressed
By MARTIN CARVALHO
KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet will announce measures to address employers' concern over higher costs following the implementation of minimum wage for foreign labour, said Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.
“The cost of foreign labour has gone up and this issue is being discussed by the Cabinet.
“We hope to make a decision within a week or two and will make an announcement,” he told reporters after attending a dialogue with skills training providers here yesterday.
He also clarified allegations made by certain quarters, in particular DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who claimed that the Government was favouring foreign workers over locals with the implementation of minimum wage.
“Our labour laws and all international labour standards don't allow for discrimination of workers based on race, religion or creed,” he said.
“We are bound to follow them and can't run away from them.”
Dr Subramaniam added that calls for a two-tier wage system for locals and foreign workers by certain groups was counter-productive.
He noted that a two-tier wage system would result in employers opting to hire cheaper foreign labour over the local workforce.
Since Jan 1, minimum wage is now RM900 in the peninsula and RM800 in Sabah and Sarawak. It covers workers in all sectors of the economy except for the domestic help service or maid, gardener and similar employment categories.
Last Wednesday, Dr Subramaniam announced the setting up of a special committee under his ministry to channel some 50,000 foreign workers employed at petrol stations to other sectors that are able to hire them at a minimum salary of RM900.
Currently, these foreign workers earn between RM600 and RM700 a month.
On a separate issue, he said the ministry would carry out a pilot project to track the status of youths who had undergone vocational or skills training programmes.
At present, 70% of graduates usually find employment six months after graduation with the other 30% either opting to start their own business or furthering their studies.