Workers announce march for higher minimum wage on May Day

KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 — Workers are set to march on May Day this year in a bid to shift the conversation around wages of which millions are still paid below what is considered to be livable.

The rally organiser called the May 1 Secretariat — a group comprising grassroots labour organisations led by the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) — said the local minimum wage model has not worked to address poverty, and workers have long tried to peg the baseline pay to a quantum that would afford them a decent living standard.

“Even if you follow the government model for determining wages, that is accounting for inflation, housing and food and so on, the minimum wage should be RM2,400,” said S. Arutchelvan, PSM leader.


“We are proposing RM2,000, which is somewhere in the middle.”

The current minimum wage is RM1,500, which unions said is far below what experts consider to be sufficient. Bank Negara Malaysia said in a 2022 report on living cost said workers need at least RM2,200 to be able to afford basic goods and services in the Klang Valley.

The last increment of the minimum wage was in 2022 announced by then prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob. It was the largest increase at the time but the policy was not mandatory for all industries.

This year’s May Day rally, themed “wages for living”, will begin from Dataran Maybank where participants will then march towards Dataran Merdeka. The secretariat said they would notify the police about the rally.

This will be the 30th labour day rally organised by the secretariat. The group said thousands could turn up but still hope the march would get popular support.

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