BENCHMARK: Employees could be paid more based on skills and experience
KOTA KINABALU: THE RM800 minimum wage for Sabah is reasonable as it is based on the ability of employers in the state to pay, said state Barisan Nasional secretary Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan.
He said the minimum wage was a floor benchmark, which meant the salary could not be below the amount decided by the government.
But employers could offer higher pay if they felt the employee deserved it based on their qualification and skill, he added.
"As expected, the opposition was quick to turn this into a contentious issue to gain political mileage.
"They criticised the minimum wage as being too low and unfair because of the different rate offered in Peninsular Malaysia.
"First of all, the minimum wage is not a magic wand to solve all economic problems and challenges faced by the lower-income group.
"The government has other tools to help them, such as through billions of ringgit in subsidies, direct transfer of cash and training courses to re-skill them.
"We must not be misled into thinking that a minimum wage is meant to turn the poor into high-income earners overnight."
Rahman said the opposition demand for an even higher minimum wage could be detrimental to workers.
"Yes, cost of living is an important factor to be looked at but other factors are equally serious and need to be taken into consideration.
"Factors such as inflationary pressure and the ability of employers, especially in the small- and medium-sized enterprises, to pay (for example, coffee shops, restaurants and sundry shops).
"Take, for example, a restaurant with eight workers which, on average, pays its employees RM500 each. The minimum wage of RM800 will now increase the employer's business cost by a RM2,400 a month.
"At a higher minimum wage of RM1,100, as suggested by the opposition, how many of them will be able to sustain their businesses?"
Rahman stressed that employers might have to let go their workers and businesses would even pass the extra cost to consumers by increasing prices.
He said an unrealistically high minimum wage would increase unemployment, inflation and hurt the economy.