Stop weaponizing Covid-19 to suppress minimum wage rise

Press Statement by Labour Law Reform Coalition on 9 February 2022 in Shah Alam

Labour Law Reform Coalition urges the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) to stop weaponizing Covid-19 to suppress the minimum wage rise.

MEF argues that the rise will increase the cost of small and medium businesses during economic recovery, and probably will lead to their closures.

We must remind MEF that during the pandemic workers were suffering as much as employers. Many were laid off, forced to take unpaid leave or have substantial wage cuts. MEF should not exaggerate employers’ suffering but neglect the sacrifice of workers.

Since the negative impact of the pandemic was shouldered equally by employers and workers, why can’t employers share economic profit in the form of wage rise with workers when the economy is recovering?

Economic analysts have forecasted that Malaysia’s GDP growth will increase from 3.5 percent in 2021 to 6.2 percent. It is unfair to say that the wage rise will kill businesses.

When the economy is returning to normal, it is time for employers to compensate workers with a higher wage floor. We must remember that our minimum wages are still below the poverty line.

The market must recognize that there is a human element in determining labour cost, please treat workers as human beings who need decent living, rather than as a commodity that generates profits for capital owners.

We urge the government to immediately announce the new minimum wage. The delay in implementing the new minimum wage has again violated the purpose of the National Wage Consultative Council Act that requires the minimum wage to be revised every two years.

N. Gopal Kishnam & Irene Xavier


Labour Law Reform Coalition