Sunday 12 June 2011

Wage council should be autonomous

PETALING JAYA: The council under the proposed National Consultative Wages Council Bill should be the decision making body on workers’ wages, not the government.

Several opposition parties and NGOs came to this resolution yesterday, in the final phase of the roundtable conference at a hotel in Petaling Jaya.

Those in support of the resolution were Suaram, Tenaganita, Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM), DAP and PKR.

Also present at the conference yesterday were foreign delegates from Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea and Klang MP Charles Santiago.

Human Resource Minister Dr S Subramaniam is set to table the National Wage Consultative Council Bill when Parliament begins its sitting on Monday.

He said the council would be empowered to make recommendations on workers’ wages once the Bill was passed.

Santiago said the current bill, if passed, would only empower the council to make recommendations to the government on wage adjustments for workers.

“And the human resources minister will still have a final say on it,” he added.

Not only the council should be autonomous, Santiago also said that only labour movements, employers and independent individuals should be allowed to be members of the council.

He added that the independent individuals should be appointed to the council based on mutual consensus between the employers and workers.

“And these individuals should be those who are familiar with labour issues such as labour lawyers and labour academics, not some retired civil servants or those still in service,” he said.

Touching on the decent living wage policy, the DAP leader said that small and medium enterprises (SME) could be exempted from the policy at least for a certain period of time.

“The government can allow them some time lapse until they are financially sound to implement the policy. But for some very small businesses, we can exempt them from it,” he said.

On June 11, the delegates called upon Asean governments to scrap the minimum wage policy and introduce the decent living wage policy for workers.

Unlike the minimum wage policy which normally sets the wage benchmark below the poverty line, the decent living wage policy would take into consideration the living needs of a worker, such as funds for food and non-food, savings and their immediate family members.

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