Restaurants: We want to hire locals, but...

PETALING JAYA: Eateries are willing to hire locals, but they say measures must be put in place to help them wean themselves off their dependance on foreign workers.

Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association (Primas) president T. Muthusamy said the government could consider setting up a proper channel through which restaurateurs could easily recruit locals who can work in the industry.

Various incentives, he added, must also be given to encourage the hiring of locals, especially as many eateries had been dependent on foreign workers for so long.

“There could be training for employers on how to manage

local employees, as the mindset of the local workforce will certainly not be the same as that of foreign workers.“It would be important to highlight the positive aspects of employing locals, and to encourage them to collaborate with local youth and women NGOs to tap into those labour segment as well,” he suggested.

Muthusamy added that the government could offer tax rebates according to the number of locals employed, and formulate policies where companies that employ a certain number of locals could get better access to loan facilities.

Malaysia Koo Soo Restaurants & Chefs Association honorary chairman Datuk Lum Tuck Loy said the industry had had its “fair share” of locals and foreigners working in different roles through the years.

“The foreigners are involved in mundane and general jobs such as cleaning, serving, clearing and as janitors – all of which are not favoured by locals.

“(But) many of us have stopped hiring for now because we are still recovering from losses, although we have been allowed to reopen conditionally early this month,” he said, referring to the movement control order that was put in place in March.

Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan said encouraging employers to hire locals was an “ongoing process”.

“Time and again, we have been engaging with the relevant ministries to find ways to attract locals,” he said.

“We had a campaign where our members advertised (jobs for locals) and they also attended several job carnivals.

“We did hire a few locals but sadly after several months, they left. The reasons they gave was that the job was boring and they were embarrassed when their friends enter their workplace,” he said.

Malaysia Singapore Coffeeshop Proprietors’ General Association president Datuk Ho Su Mong said operators were willing to offer competitive salary packages to locals willing to work as hard as foreign workers.

“Wages can be discussed and agreed upon. Most employers are willing to do profit sharing,” he said.

Not discounting the fact it was more profitable to engage foreign workers during bad times, Ho said locals were not prepared to face the longer hours and lower wages.

“They have to change their attitude and be willing to take up the jobs left vacant by foreigners,” he argued.

Ho also said the government could step in and create more awareness programmes to encourage locals who have lost their jobs to take up those vacated by foreign workers.

“The government could also encourage employers to hire locals by giving them incentives or pay subsidies,” he said, adding that employers, however, should be given a free hand to choose because there were still jobs that locals shunned.

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