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Monday, September 29, 2014

Ahead of national budget, civil servants say pay hike not enough

Cuepacs president Azih Muda cites the spiralling living costs as cause for concern for civil servants who try to make ends meet. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Raiezal, September 29, 2014.Cuepacs president Azih Muda cites the spiralling living costs as cause for concern for civil servants who try to make ends meet. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Raiezal, September 29, 2014.
Civil servants are lobbying the government for more than just a pay hike in the upcoming national budget, as they are increasingly hurt by the rising cost of living and worried about the Goods and Services Tax (GST) next year.
Cuepacs, the umbrella group representing over one million civil servants, has been pushing for the government to build more affordable housing schemes to help low ranking members who earn below RM3,000 a month.
About 60% or 630,000 of 1.05 million civil servants earn RM3,000 and below a month.
Cuepacs president Azih Muda said that salary raises in the current schemes were still not enough to deal with the high cost of living for this group, of which rental and mortgage made up a big chunk.
“There are officers who have worked for 10 years since graduating university who still cannot afford to own a home,” said Azih, who also heads the Union of Workers in Local Governments.
An officer with a university degree starts at RM2,200 a month. Using the present government salary scale, that officer’s salary would total RM3,400 in 10 years.
“How is he supposed to afford a house in the current market and feed his family, pay his education and car loans at the same time?” asked Azih.
Even if the government agrees to a pay rise in the coming budget, Azih doubts it will be enough for the months ahead as prices of necessities have shot up, especially with the 6% GST next year.
The Public Service Department had on Thursday denied media reports that civil servants would get a pay raise from next year.
Many civil servants are reluctant to accept promotion if it means moving to bigger cities. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, September 29, 2014.Many civil servants are reluctant to accept promotion if it means moving to bigger cities. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, September 29, 2014.Azih explained that according to the current scale, salaries would increase by RM80 for the lowest ranking civil servants such as drivers, clerks and counter staff.
Department directors and ministry secretary-generals could get an extra RM320 per month.
Cuepacs is made up of 130 unions and collectively represents 70% (1.05 million) of the total 1.5 million civil servants in Malaysia.
This 70% are considered implementers of government policy, while the rest are high-ranking decision makers.
Azih revealed that civil servants have been known to turn down promotions if it meant moving to big cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Baru, where living costs are high.
“The promotion you get would sometimes mean only a RM80 to RM100 raise a month. The cost of moving to the city and setting your family up is way higher than that.”
Instead of just looking at salaries, Azih said Cuepacs had lobbied the government to get back into the housing market to provide more affordable homes.
At the same time, it wants the government to review its policy of deducting cost of living, or Cola, and housing allowances, when civil servants opt to stay in government quarters.
Civil servants get Cola of between RM200 to RM300 depending on the city they live in. They also receive a housing allowance of RM180 a month.
“But when you stay in quarters, your Cola gets cut by 50% and they take away your housing allowance. It would better if the government re-classifies quarters as public housing,” said Azih.
“Public housing rental, such as PPRT (Housing for the Hardcore Poor), is RM124 a month.”
- TMI

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