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Anyone happy with a lower salary? Not me. (but I could not change the world)

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I had lunch with a close friend who is doing well today (financially). His loan for a RM1,000,000 home was just approved last week. It’s no longer his first 2 properties, so he needed to have 30% deposit for it. (Yes, that’s RM300,000 downpayment) His first role in the working world? He was a despatch clerk in Company C over 10 years ago. Last year, he bought over this same Company C and retained all staffs including all his peers, seniors and boss. What has happened? He said, ‘despatch clerk can just do despatch forever or start to understand about the things he is despatching, understand the process of many issues, get to know all the people in the industry and look for opportunities. Slowly, he learnt the ropes of the industry, started to have his own business network, expanding his business and applied for relevant qualifications. Moral of the story is this advice from him. “We decide if we want to keep improving and learning or just do something which EVERYONE could do.”

Last week or so, this was a hot topic and I think it still is. Article in nst.com.my here. In a report by Bank Negara Malaysia, Malaysian workers receive lower salaries when compared to advanced economies such as the US, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and Singapore based on their economic development and data availability. Bank Negara said an example would be if a Malaysian worker produces output worth US$1,000, he would be paid US$340. However, the wage received by a worker in benchmark economies for producing the same output was higher at US$510. BNM said most industries in Malaysia compensate workers less, even after adjusting for productivity. It said these industries are more labour-intensive and depend on low-skilled workers.

BNM’s report showed that gap between real wage growth from a firm’s and worker’s perspective increased since 2015. Furthermore, firms said rising wages are a squeeze to business margins but workers complaint about stagnant wages and rising cost of living. Several initiatives are suggested to strengthen the Productivity-Linked Wage System (PLWS). “Components of PLWS could also include mandatory disclosure of factors underpinning employees’ compensation and increment, allowing for more open and direct discourse on compensation packages,” Bank Negara said. Article in nst.com.my here.

Actually, the most important sentence in the article is this: “It said these industries are more labour-intensive and depend on low-skilled workers.” Forcing the company to pay ever higher salaries to the labour-intensive and low-skilled workers will be hard. In fact, these companies may even have to close down when they are no longer competitive versus similar companies in other countries which could do what they do at a lower cost!

My friend had just a SPM when he started. Today, he is a degree holder. It was a huge struggle and he remembered that there was even a week when he did not have enough money to eat and had to drink water for most days. We can continue to have more initiatives and encourage employers to pay more and even have legislations for it but the real wage must come also from real improvements of one’s contribution to the business. When one is contributing a lot more and the company does not appreciate us, surely other companies would. Happy understanding the real world of today.

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<Featured Image is courtesy of Stock Photos from rnl>

Article written and edited by Charles. News article summarised by Dina Batrisyia.

written on 3 April 2019

Next suggested article: More jobs will be lost,definitely. Just be ready

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