Salam 1 Malaysia.
Labour Day is celebrated around the world on the 1st of May. Historically, Labour Day is a day to commemorate the economic and social achievements of workers, notably the establishment of 8-hour work days. Labour laws in the past were substandard and workers in the 1800s started coming together to push for fairer treatment in the workplace.
Since we last celebrated Labour Day on May 1st 2013, the unemployment rate of Malaysia has further improved to an all-time low of 3.2% and is still one of the lowest in the world. Today, our workers have attained fair pay, decent working hours, safe working conditions, and the dignity of a secure retirement.
The government has taken note of the growing needs of a budding workforce and has worked towards increasing standard of living of Malaysians by introducing minimum wage; and raising the minimum retirement age to 60 years.
Today, Malaysia is blessed to have a thriving and growing economy, as evidenced by the solid Gross Domestic Product growth of 4.7% we enjoyed in 2013. As Malaysia stays on track to achieve a high-income nation status by 2020, we have our committed labour force in Malaysia to be grateful for.
As Malaysia continues to develop and transform, evidenced by include rural-to-urban migration; a shift from low productivity agriculture to higher productivity manufacturing, and then on to services, the government is committed to improving our workplace for all Malaysians, regardless of rank, status, race and political standing.
In keeping the rakyat in mind, the government is committed to modernising Malaysian labour laws in line with the needs of a high-income economy. The Government is also currently reviewing the Industrial Relations Act 1967 in an effort to allow more efficient resolutions for unfair dismissals and trade disputes, ensure effective enforcement of Industrial Court awards; and balance business needs and employees’ rights through conciliation.
The Employment Act 1955 is also under review to ensure the law is in line with emerging needs of local and foreign employers, as well as with the needs of an industrialising nation’s workforce. Any amendments to the law are aimed at spurring productivity and efficiency, increasing income levels and protecting employees to support local, regional and global competitiveness.
As Malaysian transitions from a middle-income economy to a high-income one, let us remember that Malaysia needs the co-operation of all workers from every sector in the economy as our workforce is the backbone of the economy.
Now is the time for our workers, economy and nation to be united in the effort to achieve a developed nation status by 2020. Happy Labour Day to the Malaysian workforce!