NGOs to march on Labour Day to demand ‘Living Wage’

KUALA LUMPUR: A coalition comprising 12 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), political parties, and civil movements is planning to hold a march on May 1 to urge the government to raise the minimum wage to RM2,000.

According to the May 1Secretariat, they will march from Dataran Maybank in Bangsar to Dataran Merdeka, starting at 10am.

Its spokesperson, Parameiswary Elumalai, said that although the government has set RM1,500 as the minimum wage, the amount is still low compared to the increasing cost of living.

“Everything is going up but wages are not. Recently, the issue of wages has been taken very seriously.

“The government needs to implement a ‘Living Wage’ of RM2,000 so that workers can afford basic needs such as food, housing, healthcare, childcare, and education,” she said at the 30th Workers’ Day procession media briefing at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall today.

The Workers’ Day march is an annual event organised since 1994.

She said that the theme ‘Living Wage’ was chosen for this year’s march.

“Workers do not want a minimum wage because RM1,500 today is not enough. This year is the year to reconsider the minimum wage.

“Therefore, we demand a wage for workers to live on, not just a minimum figure,” she said.

The coalition includes organisations such as Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM),Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda), and Persatuan Sahabat Malaysia.

According to Parameiswary, previous studies have shown that the minimum wage was increased by RM300 in 2022, marking the highest increase in minimum wage in the country’s history.

“However, until now, we have not yet been invited by the minimum wage coordination committee to discuss the upcoming minimum wage. We are very disappointed,” she said.

She said that according to Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) standard in 2018, the living wage for adults is RM2,700.

Meanwhile, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) project manager, Azura Nasron, said that Malaysia Department of Statistics report shows that currently, 35 percent of formal sector workers earn less than RM2,000 per month.

“Millions of Malaysians have salaries below RM2,000. Most workers aged 45 to 49 earn less than RM3,500. Because of this, we are not discussing the minimum wage but rather the ‘Living Wage’,” she said.

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