Barber shops facing final cut

Unkindest cut: The staff shortage has caused many local barber shops to shut down because they cannot get enough workers to man their shops.

KUALA LUMPUR: The new ruling to restrict the hiring of barbers from India will affect the iconic Indian barber shops, says Malaysian Indian Hair Dressing Salon Owners Association.

“We have been part of the nation’s landscape for over 100 years, with some shops existing for three generations.

“Our members are concerned that the new policy may force many barber shops to close, owing to lack of Indian barbers,” said its deputy chairman M. Ganathiban in an interview.

Last month, the government announced a gradual discontinuation in hiring of foreign workers in laundry, textile, hair dressing and goldsmith businesses.

This would be done in stages from now till 2021 in a move to prioritise the hiring of locals.

Ganathiban, who is also the association’s chairman for Selangor and the Federal Territories, said there were 718 registered Indian barber shops nationwide with 171 of them located in the Klang Valley.

“We have been providing our services to Malaysians of all races and ages for generations.

“Most of our customers are from lower and middle income groups who cannot afford modern and expensive salons,” he said.

Ganathiban said a hair cut at a traditional Indian barber shop cost between RM10 and RM14 compared to RM35 onwards at a hair salon.

While supporting the government’s efforts to reduce foreign workers in the country, he said those employed as barbers were merely a fraction of the total foreign workforce.

“Each barber shop hires about three Indian barbers, and it is getting harder to replace them once they return home,” he said, adding that the association was not consulted over the new ruling.

Ganathiban said the authorities should just target barber shops that employed illegal foreign workers.

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