Malaysia has implemented the RM1,500 minimum wage policy starting 1 May this year and this news was well received by employees across the country, especially for those who are earning less than RM1,500.
However, this joy of having an pay increment did not last long as over the past months, prices of food items has skyrocketed.
Speaking to NST, Taufid Osman, 36, who earns RM1,200 as a security guard, has expected that the RM300 increase to give him some room to breathe to meet his expenses. However, it has been 2 months since the pay bump, but Taufid doesn’t feel like celebrating.
“The sharp increase in the cost of goods has negated my salary increase. I’m still depending on part-time jobs to put food on the table for my family,” Taufid said.
Apart from having to take care of his wife and 6-year-old daughter, he is taking care of his ailing parents too.
“Things have become so expensive, and this is coming from someone who lives in a rural area. I dread to think what our situation would be if we lived in the city.” he said.
Meanwhile, not all employees receive their pay bump under the new minimum wage as the government gave exceptions to businesses with fewer than five workers have until the end of the year for the implementation.
Dahari Abdullah, 57, who works as a bus driver in Alor Star, said he is stuck with the previous minimum wage of RM1,200.
“I consider myself lucky as I only have a wife to support. My colleagues, who have children, are struggling as the prices of essential items are soaring.”
“The government needs to focus on lowering the cost of living. Not all employers can afford to raise their workers’ pay during this difficult time,” he said.
On the other hand, the new minimum wage has also impacted small businesses that are thriving to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
In Sungai Petani, Hasnah (not her real name), who runs a daycare centre, is having sleepless nights for fear of losing her staff.
“I heard from other nursery and kindergarten operators that a number of their staff have left to work at factories.”
“We can’t afford to stop them. With the higher cost of living, we understand why they left,” she said, adding that the factories are offering the RM1,500 monthly minimum wage.
Hasnah also pointed out that most kindergarten operators are facing the same situation.
“Of course, we are obliged to raise the minimum pay. In fact, we also want to pay our staff more due to higher cost of living but we can’t increase the fees now as many parents are also struggling financially,” she said.
She added that they are still struggling to cover the huge losses suffered during the Movement Control Order at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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