KUALA LUMPUR | Contract workers at government buildings are still paid RM1,200 as their work contracts were based on the previous minimum wage, according to the Government Contract Workers Alliance (JPKK).

The New Strait Times reported JPKK’s national coordinator, Danial Hakeem Azman, as saying at a virtual press conference that the contract workers, which include cleaners and security guards, should be paid the new minimum wage of RM1,500.

“The workers say these companies will only pay them the new minimum wage once the company’s contract with the government ends.

“During the previous increment of the minimum wage from RM1,100 to RM1,200, the backdated amounts were also not paid,” he was quoted as saying.

According to him, a security association sent a letter to the Human Resources Ministry earlier this year to say it could start paying their workers RM1,500 only next year, despite the new minimum wage coming into effect last month.

“The company said they were unable to bear the additional costs at such short notice while also stating that security guards were not professional workers,” he was quoted as saying.

Cleaning companies also gave the same excuse, he added.

The implementation of Minimum Wages Order (MWO) 2022 has become a hotly debated issue, with Amanah Youth’s economy bureau director Ammar Atan saying last week that it was a “hasty” decision as small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were still recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Free Malaysia Today.

In March, President of the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF), Datuk Syed Hussain Syed Husman, agreed with this judgement, and was reported by the New Strait Times to have said: “A sudden increase of between 25 to 36 per cent in the minimum wage rate will put a lot of financial pressures on businesses”.

However, Free Malaysia Today reported Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general Kamarul Baharin Mansor as saying that the congress has received complaints that companies have reduced benefits with the minimum wage hike.

Last month, Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar clarified that only micro enterprises and micro entrepreneurs were exempted from the Minimum Wages Order (MWO) 2022.