Worker reforms can’t happen overnight, minister tells armchair critics

Worker reforms can’t happen overnight, minister tells armchair critics

KUALA LUMPUR,. The government’s move to raise minimum wage to a standard RM1,050 nationwide might be “paltry” to armchair critics, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said today.

But massive socio-economic reforms do not happen instantly, especially when it has much to clean up, he added.

“While the Pakatan Harapan administration cannot and should not become prickly over criticism from within the stable of its own executive class, it should be noted that rash talk is cheap, especially on the part of those who do not have the responsibility,” he said in a statement today.

Faced with repeated criticism, Kulasegaran explained that the RM50 increase to the minimum wage — for workers in peninsular Malaysia — looks paltry only because of the “dire financial situation of the country caused by the previous government’s deliberate corruption and reckless extravagance”.

He said his ministry’s efforts to boost productivity by reskilling and upskilling workers “are happening at a quick pace” and cited planned changes to the Technical, Vocational, Educational and Training (TVET) Institutes and eight labour laws as the PH government’s next step towards reform.

He named the eight laws as the Industrial Relations Act 1967, Trade Unions Act 1959, Minimum Standard of Housing & Amenities Act 1990, Occupation Safety & Health Act 1994, Chindren and Young Person (Employment) Act 1966, Employment Act 1955, Sabah Labour Ordinance, Sarawak Labour Ordinance, and Perkeso.

He said the amendments to Perkeso especially will benefit 1.2 million housewives and also 2.5 million migrant workers.

“Overall, the employment situation would be much improved and our workers abroad, blue collar ones especially, would be induced to think about returning home.

“A cynical mindset would be tempted to ridicule this claim but a journey of a thousand miles of improvement to the socioeconomic situation of this country must begin with single steps such as the PLWS, TVET restructuring, and a host of other changes to labour laws,” he said.

He added that he is always been open to anyone who wishes to discuss ways to resolve the country’s socio-economic situation or have complaints about it ever since being appointed minister.