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LETTER | Employers should stop the same tired and boring fear mongers as they did in 2010 when minimum wage was introduced and each time when the minimum wage is increased. They even made the now-debunked claim that 300,000 businesses will go bankrupt if MW is implemented.

Employers should be much smarter and be proactive and visionary.

Minimum wage increases are not the cause of outward remittances and low exchange rates. It is employers’ addiction to foreign workers which they can control, manipulate and exploit.

It is laughable for employers group to talk about illegal foreign workers. The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) is admitting that employers are and blatantly breaking the law by employing illegals. Don’t cut your nose to spite your face.

The additional minimum wage increase of RM100 in major cities translates to only an additional 48 sen per hour. If they cannot afford 48 sen, they have no business being in business. The new minimum wage of just RM5.76 an hour cannot even buy a proper lunch in Kuala Lumpur, Bintulu or Sandakan.

In Perth, Australia, the minimum wage is A$22 an hour. and lunch there will cost A$11. This means that working half an hour is enough to put food into a worker's mouth. In Malaysia, workers have to work 2.5 hours just to buy a proper meal. That means the minimum wage in Malaysia is five times lower compared with that of Perth.

Higher minimum wage facilitates part-time employment for our students to earn a reasonable income and gain work experience in Australia. Don’t expect Malaysia students to work three hours earning less than RM18 which is not enough to pay for transport from Cheras to Pavillion and the cost of a meal.

We believe that a higher minimum wage will also facilitate a high-income and high-productivity workforce. Employers will have to invest in innovation and smarter human resources management and manpower planning instead of forever relying on low skilled foreign workers. It will increase their competitiveness in a global economy

It is hypocritical for MEF to now to criticise the government's decision to raise the minimum wage only for major urban areas as it is the employers' group who has been fighting for sectoral and geographical minimum wage.

If they are worried about discrimination then implement RM1,200.

We believe that a minimum wage of RM1,200 is too low and should be at least RM1,500 with effect immediately nationwide.

ANDREW LO is secretary of MTUC Sarawak.

MOHD SHAFIE is president of UNI Malaysia Labour Centre.

GOPALA KHRISNAN is Labour Law Reform Coalition co-chair.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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