KUALA LUMPUR: Fearing that the hiring freeze on foreign workers will lead to a shortage of workers and higher operational costs, barbershop owners will submit a memorandum to the government appealing for a review of its foreign worker policy.
The Malaysian Indian Hair Dressing Salon Owners Association (Mindas) said they will submit a memorandum to Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, requesting 2,000 foreign worker permits exclusively for the association.
"Mindas is appealing to the government to review the policy to enable us to continue providing the rakyat with quality services at reasonable prices," its treasurer Jeyakumar Manoharan said at a press conference here on Wednesday (Sept 18).
Jeyakumar said they are also willing to work with the government to weed out the proliferation of illegal barbershops that employ illegal foreign workers.
He warned that prices of haircuts may rise to salon prices, if the government prohibits them from legally hiring foreign workers.
He said the shortage of workers, on top of rising cost of operations, may leave them no choice but to increase the price of haircuts.
"A freeze policy on the use of foreign workers can result in an increase of fees to between RM30 and RM45," he said.
A haircut at a traditional Indian barber shop currently cost between RM10 and RM14, a low price Jayakumar said benefits the B40 community.
Jeyakumar said despite their best efforts to hire locals with the help of the Labour Department and Jobs Malaysia, there has been no response.
In August, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the government would discontinue the hiring of foreign workers for service sub-sectors comprising 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.
Jeyakumar said the government had already stopped issuing new foreign worker permits approvals since 2009, but they were able to make do with the foreign workers' replacement scheme.
The scheme allows employers to get replacements for foreign workers who had returned to their home country without having to go through a new application process.
"It is incorrect to state that our members are reluctant to employ local workers, but rather local workers seem disinterested in our businesses," he said, adding that they are offering up to RM2,000 monthly salary for local hires.
Jeyakumar said since 2016,40% of barbershops in their membership roll have shut down.
"What we are stressing is to allow our members who are operating legally to be allowed and given the opportunity to run their operations," he said.
Jeyakumar said Mindas has 718 registered members with approximately 2,100 barbershops operating nationwide. The foreign workers they legally employ are from India, Bangladesh and Nepal.