Foundry and engineering trade firms in Johor fear losing workers

The Johor-Singapore border was partially reopened under the Reciprocal Green Lane and Periodic Commuting Arrangement schemes from Aug 17. — Filepic

JOHOR BARU: Foundry and engineering trade firms in Johor that have employed locals who were laid off in Singapore, are now concerned about the impending wave of resignations once the government reopens the border fully.

South Johor Foundry and Engineering Industries Association chairman Lim Kok Kiong said since the movement control order (MCO) started on March 18, local firms had hired a number of Malaysians who returned from Singapore after having lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Previously, it was difficult for the industry to hire local staff.

“This was the situation even after putting up countless recruitment advertisements, simply because the salary package across the Causeway is far more attractive due to the currency exchange,” he said in an interview here.

The situation changed recently where local recruitment increased, he said, adding that his firm had also hired some returning talents during the MCO.

He said that skilled workers, especially from the middle-aged group, were willing to sacrifice the pay difference as they had mouths to feed and financial commitments to see to.

Lim said a semi-skilled worker could earn more than RM3,000 a month here while a skilled worker could command about RM5,000 monthly, which was less attractive compared to the average basic salary of $1,500 (RM4,570) to $2,000 (RM6,050) paid in Singapore.

“Because of the significant pay difference, we are worried that the new employees will treat their current position as a temporary measure and eventually flock back to Singapore once the travel restrictions are fully lifted,” he added.

Lim said as the new chairman of the association branch of more than 500 members, he hoped to neutralise the industry in view of the pandemic and create a more attractive job market as well.

He also hoped the government could lower the tariffs for raw materials such as steel, that was vital to the industry.

“It is difficult for Malaysia to attract investors when our raw materials are more expensive than neighbouring markets like Singapore, Thailand and China,” he said, adding that the issue had a ripple effect on the price of materials, corporate tax and the job market.

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