The Malaysia government’s decision to raise the minimum monthly wage for workers in the country is likely to benefit tens of thousands of Nepali workers in the South-East Asian nation.
The local government recently decided to increase the minimum monthly wage to RM1,200 ($300) for workers in the country’s cities and urban areas.
The new wage comes into effect in January 2020, providing a hike for workers employed in 57 cities and towns, including the 13 state capitals and three federal territories, local media reported.
Introduction of a new salary range for workers, including foreign labour force, will cover tens of thousands of Nepali workers in the country as well, according to Maheshwor Mani Tripathi, second secretary at the Nepal Embassy in Malaysia.
“The new salary scheme will benefit the majority of Nepali workers as they are employed in those areas. Only a small fraction of Nepali workers will be left out,” Tripathi said citing the Human Resource Ministry.
The new minimum monthly salary will not be applicable for small towns and rural areas where the existing rate of RM1,100 would remain, according to the ministry.
Nepali workers in Malaysia are happy with the proposed salary hike although it is not a huge addition.
Roshan, a Nepali worker in Malaysia, told the Kathmandu Post that he was aware of the new salary rate coming into effect from next month.
“We have been hearing about the proposed minimum wage from the local media. Since then, everyone at my workplace is elated.
“The hike will mean Nepali workers will also get a raise. Nepali workers are happy with an increase in the minimum monthly wage,” Roshan, who wanted to be identified by his first name, told the Kathmandu Post from Malaysia over the phone.
The Malaysian government has also said that the minimum wage rates will be regularly revised to ensure that they are in line with the current cost of living.
The minimum wage is likely to rise more in future also because the current Pakatan Harapan administration had promised during its election campaign to increase the minimum wage to RM1,500 within five years of its rule. The government continues to reaffirm its commitment to raising the minimum wage to RM1,500.
Malaysia currently hosts nearly 400,000 Nepalis. A Nepali worker, on average, earns between RM1,500 and RM1,600 a month, including overtime work pay.
“Salaries and other facilities are better in multinational companies here in Malaysia. A significant chunk of the workers’ salary comes from overtime work which can differ from company to company,” said Tripathi.
A Nepali worker is entitled to the minimum wage along with the local workers. As per the labour agreement between Nepal and Malaysia signed in October 2018, the monthly salary of Nepali workers should be in line with the minimum wage policy of the Malaysian government.
The local employer cannot discriminate Nepali workers in terms of wages for the same nature of jobs.
The Nepal government has set a minimum salary of RM1,925 for Nepali security guards in Malaysia whereas other workers cannot be paid less than the host country’s standard minimum wage.
“Workers’ salaries depend upon their experience and profile of the companies they work for. After working for some time, many workers are promoted as supervisors and fetch handsome monthly salary,” said Tripathi.
The embassy does not approve the demand for Nepali workers with a salary less than the government’s minimum rate.
THE KATHMANDU POST/ANN