Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Naik Gaji or Else!

I support MTUC fighting for the welfare of workers, asking the Govt to make Minimum Wage of RM900 legally enforceable by law. I have written a few times in Malaysiakini highlighting the importance of legislating this law.
Picket and 'mogok' is the way to to if MTUC cant get fair response from the Govt.
Next, I will write about steps to get workers more efficient in their work.
We should change the system of monthly wages, ie getting paid only once a month. Change the wage rate to hourly, and wages get paid weekly, and we will soon see the benefit shows in the economy.

MTUC anjur piket tuntut kenaikan gaji sektor swasta
Roy Rasul
Tue | Jun 05, 07 | 04:15:26 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, 5 Jun (Hrkh) – Sebelum tindakan mogok diambil, Kongres Kesatuan Sekerja Malaysia (MTUC) akan mengadakan satu piket besar-besaran di seluruh negara pada 25 Jun ini.

[Sila layari untuk laporan semasa muktamar]

Setiausahanya, G Rajasekaran berkata, piket atau tunjuk perasaan tersebut bertujuan untuk meningkatkan kempen gaji minima RM900 dan tuntutan elaun sara hidup (Cola) RM300 kepada pekerja-pekerja sektor swasta ekoran kerajaan mengumumkan kenaikan gaji kakitangan awam baru-baru ini.

Bagaimanapun katanya, yang dihubungi Harakahdaily hari ini, piket akan diadakan selepas waktu kerja iaitu bermula 5.30 petang bagi mengelakkan gangguan waktu bertugas.

“Perkara ini sudah kita maklumkan kepada semua kesatuan yang berjumlah 220 kesatuan dan lebih daripada 50,000 pekerja akan menyertainya,” katanya.

Menurutnya, piket itu terpaksa diambil kerana para pekerja menghadapi masalah yang serius berhubung dasar gaji mereka yang terlalu rendah.

Sebelum itu katanya, seramai seribu ahli MTUC akan menemui Perdana Menteri, Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi di Putrajaya pada 18 Jun bagi menyerahkan satu memorandum berhubung tuntutan gaji minimum dan pembayaran cola.

“Kita pergi menemui perdana menteri supaya kerajaan campur tangan dalam isu ini,” katanya.

Katanya lagi, jika usaha mereka tidak mendapat apa-apa hasil sama ada dari kerajaan mahupun majikan barulah mereka akan mengadakan mogok sehari.

Namun katanya, tarikh mogok akan ditentukan selepas satu mesyuarat diadakan. - mns

compare to this letter in Malaysiakini written by someone who oppose to workers getting fair minimum wage:

PKR’s promises look good on paper but ...
Rajan Rishyakaran
Jun 5, 07 3:24pm Adjust font size:
In a recent policy speech, PKR pPesident Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, promised a high minimum wage, low-cost housing as well as free healthcare, showing clearly why PKR should never be given a chance to govern. While proposing both under the guise of being the champion of the workers, it is precisely this group that will suffer the most under those policies.

The idea behind the minimum wage is flawed; it is arbitrary by nature, it increases unemployment in the low-skilled labour market and it increases business costs and through it, the cost of living. Under a minimum wage regime, employers simply hire less and spend more on labour-replacing machinery (capital) to reduce cost. For example, if a company previously was willing to hire 20 people for RM500 each, logically, they would not be willing to hire the same 20 people for RM1,000 each.

Being low-skilled workers means that businesses would largely hire them instead of using machinery (capital) not because they prefer the ‘human touch’ or they're afraid of machines, but rather because they're cheaper. And whether they stomach the increased labour costs or increase the use of capital goods, business costs would surely rise.

Considering that businesses that depend most on low-skilled labour are involved in providing essential items from cooking oil to clothes, this would cause an increase in the cost of living that would hit the poor most dearly.

Not forgetting the inequitable nature of minimum wage - a married man with a disabled wife and ten children would be guaranteed the same minimum wage as a teenager fresh out of school (and for good reason; if the teenager is guaranteed a lower minimum wage, employers would prefer hiring him over the more needy married man).

PKR's policy takes a further step by taking an arbitrary number - RM1,000/month - as the base for their policy. This specific number is ludicrous; if the government can’t even guarantee that for its workers, what more the private sector. After all, they don't have the power of taxation.

Furthermore, Wan Azizah's policy would apply uniformly across the country - disregarding the very different costs and standard of living between regions like the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor Bahru and less developed regions like East Malaysia. It pours scorn on the very aim of the minimum wage - to guarantee a living wage. How is a living wage equal in Kuala Lumpur as it is in Lojing, Kelantan?

Wan Azizah also promises low-cost housing, ignoring its flaws in status quo as well as similar policies in other countries. By providing low-cost housing, what the PKR as government would do is essentially the same as the status quo - creating high-rise slums. And this isn't unique to Malaysia itself; even in cities within developed countries like the United States and the United Kingdom face the same problem.

And as if the minimum wage and low-cost housing weren't populist enough, also promised was free, universal healthcare - ignoring the serious, undermining problems similar systems around the world face. Universal to universal free healthcare systems are long waiting lines, declining healthcare standards and medical productivity.

All these can be easily explained by economics. Without the price system, a problem of distribution of this limited resource occurs, only to be solved by increased waiting and lowered standards. Free things being free, an increase in demand would stretch this limited resource further. And even on a principle level, it cannot be justified. While helping the poor is admirable, Wan Azizah promises free healthcare for everyone, even those who can afford it. Why should taxpayers foot the bill for the latter?

Not only that, the problem of tragedy of the commons occurs. When a morbidly obese person, who drinks and smokes, for example, has the same access to free healthcare as one who eats right and exercises regularly, there is less incentive for that morbidly obese person to change.

And last, the question of feasibility occurs. Universal healthcare is a costly policy and more so for a middle-income developing nation such as Malaysia. The only way PKR can afford universal healthcare (at least at decent levels) is higher taxation. Already Malaysia is uncompetitive with other Asian economies like Singapore that have lower taxes.

To what end, I must ask? Free healthcare is not the only solution to helping the poor gain more access to medical care. Means-tested aid, for example, could do the trick. And back to minimum wage. There are many other solutions to guaranteeing the poor a living wage. Singapore, for example, recently came up with a well-thought out Workfare. There is also a policy that is popular amongst economists - the Negative Income Tax. And vouchers for the poor are a lot more efficient than building low-cost housing.

Wan Azizah did proclaim, ‘Justice is the principle and the foundational plank of PKR’. But what justice is served when the poor have less jobs and a higher cost of living, have high-rise slums as their only housing option and face a less efficient healthcare system? What justice is there for the taxpayer who has to shell out more taxes to finance these flawed policies?

What justice is there for the nation as a whole which would have declining economic growth and competitiveness, especially when Wan Azizah looks upon declining growth rates with concern in the very same speech?

Free healthcare, low-cost housing and minimum wage all are good gestures indicating good intentions by PKR. But, as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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