Dim future for workers?


For many state planners, the diversification to the services sector from manufacturing makes sound economic sense – but does it necessarily mean that workers will be much better off?

The recent amendments to the Employment Act to entrench the position of labour contractors will further weaken the position of workers.

GDP or Gross National Income per capita may well go up with diversification to services, but workers could end up worse off with stagnant or even declining real wages and loss of benefits and security.

A friend of mine sent in the following observation of the Amazon company:

Its CEO Jeff Bezos makes it to No. 13 on The Forbes 400 richest people in the United States, with a net worth of US$19.1bn. He is hailed as a corporate innovator, and customers in the US and the world over drool over the price discounts of the giant retail outlet.

But his workers are reportedly part of the race to the bottom — the hollowing out of the middle and working classes — with low pay and horrendous working conditions, most of them temporary employees. Take a look at this article in The Morning Call for an inside glimpse of working conditions for Amazon employees.

Note that at US$11 per hour, someone working full time, 40 hours a week and 52 weeks a year, would be at or below the US poverty line if he or she were the only income source for a family of four.

Question: Now there may be some notable and happy exceptions … but is this our future given current policies to shift from manufacturing to services, with the bulk of services being low-paying retail, wholesale, hotel and restaurant services?

Next time you are in a supermarket or in a restaurant, try asking what the check-out clerk or the waiter serving you makes a month.

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8 Jan 2012 9.13pm

Anil Thanks and yet again on another of your excellent article on the plight of Malaysian workforce! What I am raising is indirectly related to this article. This is about the number of holidays Malaysians enjoy, and especially in early Feb. An organisation recently was lamenting how productivity is going to be affected and it is going to make employers “cry”. The cheek of it! Maybe this so-called organisation would want to provide an honest explanation to the public and the authorities on why during Christmas from the eve right to Dec 26, it is only the Hindus/Sikhs and Muslims… Read more »

Ho Hia Tee
Ho Hia Tee
8 Jan 2012 4.43pm

Brighter future for workers IF we

a) remove gas subsidies to Independent Power Producers to benefit rakyat not cronies.

b) review for a fairer toll concessions agreements benefitting rakyat not cronies.

c) implement minimum wage t combat surging inflation. wage also pegged to productivity for a competitive and not complacent workforce – rewards know-how not know-who.

d) move up value chain in manufacturing & automation industry to eventually phase out labor intensive work (now engaging foreigners).

e) lifelong learning and training

8 Jan 2012 12.53am

Malaysia, our beloved country is a land of opportunity for many, Pakistanis, Banglas, Indons, Myanmarese, Indian, Nepalese and other foreigners come here to make a fortune in this paradise while the spoiled MALAYSIANS sit and complain all day long, it’s time for blogs like yours to to encourage Malaysians and advice on opportunities to make money and advance economically

7 Jan 2012 8.54pm

Kuburkan korupsi untuk membasmikan kemiskinan

7 Jan 2012 5.48pm

Under BN the future is DIM.

semuanya OK kot
semuanya OK kot
7 Jan 2012 12.27pm

Also ask the private-sector workers you get to chat with how many hours they work. Government workers work the minimum, skive, get regular increments and have time for a second job. Don’t get me wrong: this is not a unique problem here. It is the intrinsic blood-sucking nature of capitalism.

Cik Rihanna
Cik Rihanna
7 Jan 2012 10.24am

dimm all the barang naik lights come 109 !

uncle anil, got live feed or not ? thks for possible coverage.

7 Jan 2012 12.55pm
Reply to  Anil Netto

There is chance that the High Court will delay its judgment on the Sodomy II case .. (this would) enable BN to assess Pakatan Rakyat’s actual supporter strength?

Gerakan K
Gerakan K
7 Jan 2012 9.06am

Anil: “Next time you are in a supermarket or in a restaurant, try asking what the check-out clerk or the waiter serving you makes a month. ”

Gerakan K: Dear all readers, DO NOT DO as suggested by very book-wise anil, because that action = insult to the workers AND your meal may under risks of silent contamination !!!

Anyway, there is number forecast for you to increase your money. Let’s go for it !!!

Andrew I
7 Jan 2012 12.31pm
Reply to  Gerakan K

Andrew I: Dear Gherkin, why don’t you give your number forecast to the check-out clerk or waiter? Who knows, with your accuracy, they won’t need to work any more. Or you could give it to us. No more thumbs down if we kena. No pau, only real number.

Ahmad Sobri
Ahmad Sobri
8 Jan 2012 2.31am
Reply to  Gerakan K

Only fools encourage people to bet, only fools bet without knowing the odds! What chances are there for a punter in a number game? And the payouts, how miserable? The problem with UMNO is that they had been in a marriage with MCA for so long and they had allowed MCA to infest their lazy brains with easy monies by granting (certain people) license to run gaming businesses? Anyway, not worth mentioning about Gerakan as there would be no Gerakan if there is no MCA! Visted Penang and still in Penang and I must say I am most impressed with… Read more »

8 Jan 2012 11.17pm
Reply to  Ahmad Sobri

UR right, Ahmad Sobri, the best places to get feedbacks are the kopitiams, wet markets and even the Penang GH! Not @ slippery cleanliness food courts, Kimmy Garish, Soul Garden or Dad’s Rich (no offense to Rich Dad, Poor Dad’s Robert Kiyosaki). The ordinary folks (especially those @ Macalister Road kopitiams) speak from their true hearts (more heart felt than pockets filled with RM500). Come more often to Penang, or maybe you would like to migrate here? BTW, Penang Black Kopi-O kau kau is the best in the country. Available in most heritage-ambienced ori-kopitiam in Penang. Much, much better than… Read more »

7 Jan 2012 7.50am

present flexi-outsourced employment (benefitting those recruiting agencies) system allows more foreign labours to compete with locals for service industry. If let’s say a check-out counter waiter/waitress refuses the basic pay, the job can be given out to cheaper sourced foreigner. Take it or leave it. That’s why we can see massive influx and filled-positions by foreigners in many service industries. Another worrying trend is the lucrative sex (under service industry ?) that have mushroomed as evident on daily tv news report. The police or raiders only react to situations and have failed to overcome the situation by engaging the root… Read more »

7 Jan 2012 6.45am

For the guards at RM2.80 or 90 US cents per hours is even worse considering that the cost of living here is almost at par with the US. The latest Honda Civic sedan HF in US sells at US19,455/= or RM 61,866/= compared to an older model here selling at about RM120,000/=. How dimmer will we be if we continue with Ammo, Najib and Barang Naik