'Explain to foreign workers about minimum wages'

KUALA LUMPUR: The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) is urging all relevant authorities and agencies to explain to representatives of foreign workers on the latest changes to minimum wages.

In a statement yesterday, the trade body said this is to avoid any misunderstanding by the foreign workers and recurrence of riots in Muar.

Three days ago, Muar police foiled an attempt by 5,000 foreign workers from Nepal to hold a demonstration there. Muar police chief Assistant Commisioner Mohd Nasir Ramli said his men prevented them from gathering in front of a supermarket in Jalan Ali. 

"We detained 106 people, including those believed to be the masterminds behind the gathering, for questioning and they were released at 1pm," he had said. Last week, Muar police also arrested 32 Nepalese workers for rioting at a furniture factory over their salaries.

In view of these unfortunate incidents, the National Wages Consultative Council (NWCC) had two days ago, announced that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are allowed to defer implementation of minimum wages for their foreign workers until the end of this year.

Employers of other sectors who are facing difficulties in implementing minimum wages may also appeal for deferment by submitting their applications to NWCC in Putrajaya by June 30 2013.

Following NWCC's decision, employers in the SME sector are not allowed to make deductions from the foreign workers' wages for the levy, cost of accommodation or other allowances.

Instead, they will be given more time to negotiate with their employees on ways to restructure their salary framework. 

As for employers of big companies who have been implementing minimum wages for foreign workers from January 1, NWCC said they will be given blanket approval for deductions of levy and cost of accommodation.

NWCC said the amount of levy to be deducted is pro-rated monthly and it shall not exceed RM50 a month for each foreign worker. Both the deductions must be reported to the Labour Department.

However, under special circumstances and based on individual merits, the Labour Department may consider applications for cost of accommodation exceeding RM50 a month for each foreign worker, NWCC said.

The Minimum Wages Order 2012, which took effect from January 1 2013, requires employers with six employees and above to pay a minimum wage of RM900 a month in the peninsula or RM800 a month in Sabah, Sarawak and the Federal Territory of Labuan.