Minimum wage hotlines launched

K Pragalath | January 3, 2013
PSM says the government has gone back on its word by giving leeway to 600 firms.
KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) and the workers’ rights organisation Jerit have set up a system to monitor companies’ compliance with the Minimum Wage Act.
This followed last week’s announcement by the Human Resources Ministry that it had permitted 600 companies to restructure wages so that what were previously categorised as allowances were now incorporated into the basic pay.
PSM secretary general A Arutchelvan today described that decision as tantamount to the government going back on its word.
He told a press conference that the monitoring system would be managed by PSM and Jerit. At its heart is a network of hotline numbers that disgruntled workers can call to lodge complaints, which will then be forwarded to the Human Resources Ministry. There are also complaint forms that workers can fill in without fear of their identities being revealed.
Arutchelvan said PSM and Jerit were distributing the complaint forms to workers in gazetted industrial areas.
He also announced that the two organisations would hold their Minimum Wage Awareness Week from Jan 20 to Jan 26 at various industrial zones nationwide, where they will distribute cards explaining workers’ rights under the minimum wage policy.
Jerit coordinator M Sivaranjani said more than 300 workers had approached Jerit and PSM since December with inquiries about minimum wage.
The Minimum Wage Act was gazetted in July 2012 and becomes effective this month. It fixes minimum wage at RM900 in Peninsular Malaysia and RM800 in Sabah and Sarawak.
Arutchelvan demanded that the government reveal the names of the 600 companies that have been exempted.
He suggested that the government provide subsidy assistance to companies claiming to have difficulties in giving minimum wage instead of allowing them to postpone its implementation.
He also suggested that the Human Resource Ministry announce a hotline number for workers to lodge complaints against companies breaking the minimum wage law.

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