Bank Negara should be commended for raising the problems associated with a “race to the bottom” in labor costs in its 2017 Annual Report.
Clearly, Malaysia has been experiencing this problem for some decades now, with pro-employer policies, unregulated supply of foreign workers and a diminution of workers’ rights contributing to the current state of sad affairs.
The forces of demand and supply have been distorted unfairly to the disadvantage of Malaysian workers. As a result of this, Malaysian workers have been suffering through a reduction in real income levels and where many workers and their families have been forced into poverty.
The government should take a serious view of the findings in the Bank Negara report. What is needed is a root-and-branch analysis of the problems facing Malaysian workers and this should be undertaken immediately. The Bank Negara report should be used as the starting reference point.
Even in industries where there are few or no foreign workers, wage levels have suffered and been distorted from reality due to the oversupply of labor in the aggregate. Malaysians are being punished, and in particular the lower-income group, due to the “race to the bottom” in labor costs.
MTUC will pursue this matter to ensure that Malaysian workers are treated fairly.