Johor and Johoreans need good jobs with better pay

Labour Day message by Johor State Opposition Leader Liew Chin Tong

On 1 May today, I wish all workers who are in Johor and from Johor, wherever you are, a happy and auspicious Labour Day.

It is imperative for all – policy makers, employers, and employees – to recognise that the current conditions for workers in Johor and beyond is not conducive for the economy and more crucially, the well-being of Johoreans.

Many Johoreans work in Singapore because wages in Johor and other parts of Malaysia are too low, made worse by the huge difference in currency exchange.

I urge the Johor State Government to place good jobs with decent pay at the centre of all its economic activities.

How do we do this?

For instance, all investments into the state should be evaluated on the basis of its contributions to generate quality jobs with better pay for Malaysians.

We need investments, but more so, higher quality investments. These job opportunities should match the qualifications of young Malaysians, many of whom have received some forms of skilled training, TVET or tertiary education.

In Johor, good jobs with decent pay means providing at least two-thirds of Singapore salary. This means if a semi-skilled Malaysian worker is paid SGD$2,000 per month, he or she would most likely be happy to stay back in Johor if Malaysian employers pay between RM3,000 and RM4,000. The gap in income is filled with better quality of life and more time spent with their families at home.

To reach such a level of pay for semi-skilled jobs, policies need to be geared towards technological upgrade, automation and IR 4.0. This will reduce our dependence on manual labour, especially unskilled foreign workers, and eventually pay better for each worker.

I understand that such a major wage structural shift and upgrade across the entire Johor and Malaysian economy will not happen overnight. It may take 5 to 10 years to realise this plan.

But the journey of a thousand miles needs to start somewhere, from now.

The new Johor State Government needs a 5-year roadmap to create good jobs with decent pay. The Opposition under my leadership is prepared to contribute ideas to ensure the success of the plan.

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