The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has accused the Pakatan Harapan government of betraying the nation's low-income earners or those in the B40 bracket.
Secretary-general J Solomon, who a day before the May 9 general election, had urged the country's 14 million-strong workforce to support Harapan, now claims the coalition is insensitive and indifferent to the B40's suffering.
“Basic human rights of Malaysia's B40 population are blatantly violated even with the new government,” he added in a hard-hitting media statement.
Solomon was commenting on Putrajaya's announcement yesterday that effective Jan 1, 2019, minimum wage would be standardised at RM1,050 a month, or RM5.05 an hour.
“An increase of RM50 from RM1,000.00 is a pittance dumped on labour while an increase of RM130 for Sabah and Sarawak still stands below the poverty line of RM1,180 in Sabah.
“After an 18-month delay in the first review and another six-month delay in the second review totalling to 24 months demonstrates the attitude of utter disregard to poor workers who are treated with the mean minimum wage increase,” he said.
“Malaysian workers have been suffering since the late 1970s. We voted out the former government with the hope of having a government that would understand the predicament of the B40.
“We could not afford a decent life with the low wages and the high cost of living, continuously being shortchanged from a decent share of the wealth generated with their commitment and contribution.
“We survive day to day on borrowed income with no savings for the future while the top management continues to draw salaries beyond one's imagination,” he added.
Solomon said the abolishment of GST did not significantly bring down prices and the introduction of SST would hurt the B40 resulting in further indebtedness.
He argued that while the previous government did not take implement steps to ensure equitable distribution of wealth amongst Malaysians, the new government appeared to be no different.
“Businesses have long lost sight of their obligations in respecting human rights throughout their operations and this government is just assisting them further in this aspect.
“The minimum wage (increase) of only RM50 demonstrates the repeated pampering of businesses just like the former government while disregarding the B40 population's rights to livelihood.
“The injustice done to the B40 population by the former government in delaying the 2015 review of the minimum wage has not been addressed by the Harapan government. Now there is a further delay of six months with the minimum wage coming into effect only in January 2019,” he added.
Solomon said the new government has failed to take into consideration the realistic living wage for the workers announced in Bank Negara's 2017 annual report while the salaries of the top management continue to increase based on the so-called market rate.
“Even migrant workers in the construction sector would not work for anything lesser than RM70 per day while the proposed minimum wage of RM35.00 per day is forced on local workers.
“It is also reported that in 2016 even the Rohingya refugees refused to work for RM1,500 per month and in 2018 the new government is introducing beggary of RM1050 as minimum wage.
“As for MTUC, the Harapan government has failed the poor workers while the arrogance and disregard to labour demonstrated by the previous government now appear to be reemerging by the actions of the new government.
“MTUC wishes to remind that it would be the height of stupidity for any government to show disrespect to labour and allow labour to be manipulated as workers would unite to fight anyone who undermines the dignity of workers,” he added.