THERE is no reason to believe a recent WhatsApp message that the hotel industry will be experiencing a slump, National Union of Hotel, Bar and Restaurant Workers (NUHBRW) secretary general Rusli Affandi.
Rusli said this may be the work of irresponsible parties wanting to dissuade unions from demanding more pay.
The speculative post stating that 20 top hotels in Klang Valley will either be sold off or will close down is causing concern that many in the industry will lose their jobs.
However, this has been rubbished by hotel-related associations, saying that the post does not describe the industry’s overall picture.
“Authorities should trace the source of this post. It was created with malicious intent to cause damage in the industry,” said Rusli.
NUHBRW, which represents 7,000 hotel workers nationwide, said it was possible that the post may have started circulating before the cap on minimum wage was set for the industry.
However, this was no longer an issue since the Prime Minister’s Department announced that Malaysia would have a uniformed minimum wage of RM1,050 per month or RM5.05 per hour starting Jan 1 this year, said Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners executive director Shaharuddin M. Saaid.
Admitting that the industry was on the “soft” side for the last three years, he said workers still enjoyed benefits such as free uniforms, laundry service, complimentary meals and recently, minimum wage benefits.
Inclusive of service points, which could be worth up to RM500 each, workers’ take home pay could be up to RM3,000 a month, he said.
Shaharuddin added that some top hotel brands were experiencing occupancy rates of between 70% to 80%.
“If there are problems in the industry, it will be the lack of staff to handle manual labour at the back of house areas and disruptive elements such as unlicensed hotels and people who let out their apartments online which has impacted budget hotels greatly,” he pointed out.
He said if anything, the labour problem would be further exacerbated in the coming years.
According to online and industry sources, some five hotels are set to open in Kuala Lumpur alone.
As such, it is estimated that 21,000 rooms and suites will be fighting for a slice of the hotel industry pie in the next five years.
Malaysian Indian Chefs Association honorary secretary general Shanmugam Rajoo said even if the speculation were true, there was still little cause for
concern because options in the hospitality industry were wide enough to reabsorb a large workforce.
“There are cruise ships, airline catering and new restaurants. It is not hard to find a job unless one is choosy,” he said.
However, he advised those who were new to the industry to align themselves with an association so that they had a safety net.
“Associations are well connected. Those who may need help for employment may bank on the network of brotherhood should they be in need of a job,” said Shanmugam.
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