The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) hopes that the government's decision to review the progressive wage policy will be implemented to ensure the welfare of the people.
Its secretary-general Kamarul Baharin Mansor said the widening gap between wage growth and the cost of living was currently perceived as burdensome, adding that the implementation of the policy could have a positive impact, especially for lower-ranked workers.
"MTUC commends the economy minister (Rafizi Ramli) for proposing the progressive wage system for workers. Rafizi’s determination to help workers survive in the present and in the future is a manifestation of the Madani government.
"The government must think of an extraordinary approach to help most of the people in this country," he said in a statement.
He also said that the government must play a role in annual salary increases as some companies prevent salary increases out of stubbornness and greed.
He said that market forces cannot determine the price of labour because workers have responsibilities towards their families and society. Moreover, he said, workers are not machines or commodities to be traded.
"The minimum wage policy that has been in place since 2013 does not require employers to give workers annual increases," he said.
"The effect of not having an annual pay increase has resulted in workers' wages being static and unchanged – some who have worked for more than 25 years still receive a wage of RM1,500.
"This situation is very depressing for workers who are putting in a lot of effort but are only paid a pittance," he said.
The economy ministry had said that it was working with the human resources ministry to prepare policy options to be presented to the National Economic Action Council, which would discuss the best strategy to increase people’s wages.
Rafizi said that engagement sessions would be held with key stakeholders, namely the government, employers and workers, to get the views of all parties.