KUALA LUMPUR, May 4, 2008 (AFP) – Malaysia’s prime minister is not yet prepared to introduce a minimum monthly wage despite mounting pressure from trade unions amid inflationary fears, reports said Sunday. The country’s top union chief on Thursday called for pay of at least 1,200 ringgit (379 dollars) to help workers cope with soaring food and fuel prices.
Malaysian Trades Union Congress president Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud said unionists would picket outside Parliament this Wednesday to pressure the Government to implement the plan.
But Premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi hit back Sunday.
“They can have 100 demonstrations but if we can’t, we can’t,” he told state news agency Bernama, referring to demands for the minimum wage.
“If it is good, of course we will do it. But if we have some doubt about introducing it now, we cannot do it. What is the meaning of giving additional pay if tomorrow we have to use our extra money to pay for higher priced goods?” he said.
Earlier this week, Abdullah said Malaysia could no longer rely on its cheap labour to attract investors and should focus instead on creating a higher quality and better educated local workforce to fight off regional competition.