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Minimum wage soon

PUTRAJAYA: The Government hopes to announce the minimum wage for workers before year-end, Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said here.
He said the newly set-up National Wages Consultative Council (NWCC) was entrusted to come out with recommendations on a minimum wage within two and a half months.

Speaking to reporters after presenting appointment letters to 25 members of the independent NWCC, he said a technical committee had already undertaken an exhaustive study on wages in the country.
“The NWCC has all the information. There is no need for them to start afresh.
“They must make decisions based on the information given to them from today,” he said, adding that a figure for the minimum wage had also been arrived at.
Dr Subramaniam said it was up to the council to look at the figure from their perspective and make the decision.
The NWCC Bill, which was gazetted on Sept 15 and came into effect on Sept 23, empowers the council to decide on a minimum wage and also undertake studies.
Former Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong is the NWCC chairman and former Human Resources Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Syed Mohamad Syed Abdul Kadir his deputy.
The council will have six members each representing workers and employers, five from other sectors and five from the Government. It will be assisted by a secretary.
On the proposal to extend the retirement age of workers in the private sector, Dr Subramaniam said discussions were still on-going.
“In principle, both the Malaysian Trades Union Congress, employers and the Government have agreed that we can go ahead to implement a retirement age for the private sector but the exact age is still under discussion,” he said.
Dr Subramaniam said the Malaysian Employers Federation had given its views and these were being looked into by the ministry.


Mall closed after gas blast


SUBANG JAYA: Empire Shopping Gallery has been closed as the authorities scrambled to determine the cause of a gas explosion which rocked the building, injuring four people.
The closure, which covers the entire complex that houses a hotel, commercial and residential units, is effective until the structures are declared safe by the authorities.
Empire Shopping Gallery is one of the most frequented and popular shopping malls here, attracting thousands of shoppers daily.
The explosion, which occurred at the ground floor of the five-storey mall at about 3.45am yesterday, also tore into the adjoining office block and studio apartments. Two other floors in the shopping complex were also damaged.
Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said: “For the time being, the complex will be closed pending investigations by the Fire Department and police.”
“Then, engineers, consultants, property owners and the local council will be allowed in to inspect the building before it is declared safe,” he told reporters after visiting the scene yesterday.
It is learnt that Energy Commission investigations will take several days to ensure the gas piping system is safe for operation.
Initial inspection by the owners' engineers and architects revealed the building's main structure was not affected by the explosion.
“I was given the assurance by the owners' professional teams of engineers and architects that the structure of the building is not affected,” Khalid said, adding that this would have to be verified by local council engineers.
He said public safety was the main concern and the complex would be temporarily closed.
To speed up the safety verification process, Khalid said local council engineers would work closely with consultant engineers to give on-the-spot decisions during inspections.
Mall management company Mammoth Empire Holdings Sdn Bhd's group chief director Datuk Danny J.Y. Cheah confirmed that the building's main structure was still intact, noting that the damage was confined to glass panels, ceiling boards and several brick walls “mainly due to the rapid expansion of air during the explosion”.
About 300 people were rescued and evacuated, including some 170 hotel guests who were relocated to nearby hotels for safety reasons, he said.
The effects of the explosion reached both ends of the mall, and all five levels recorded some form of damage.
Several windows as high up as the eighth floor of the 12-storey office tower were also shattered.
“We are not able to ascertain losses at this point in time,” Cheah said, adding that the mall was occupied by 180 tenants.
Mall general manager May Woo said all operations had been halted until further notice in the interest of public safety.
A preliminary report on the investigations is expected to be released by the fire forensics team within the next 48 hours, she said in a statement last night.
“We have taken the decision to halt operations as safety is our highest priority. We assure our tenants that this decision has been made after carefully considering all factors and advice from the authorities.
“I urge all parties to refrain from speculation and allow the authorities to carry out their investigations. We are also anxious to find out what caused this incident,” she said.
The public can get updates via various channels, including the mall's website (http://www.esg.com.my/), Facebook (www.facebook/esg.com.my) and Twitter (Empire SHGallery.com). Alternatively, they can call 018-701 2880.
Malaysian Association for Shopping and Highrise Complex Management president H.C. Chan recommended regular maintenance of gas supply systems in shopping malls.

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