KLANG: The government’s plan to extend the undocumented migrant recalibration programme is welcomed but the authorities must ensure foreign workers employed through the programme are screened and fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Malay Businessmen and Industrialists Association of Malaysia (Perdasama) president Mejar (R) Datuk Abdul Rahim Saad said while rescuing livelihoods was important, saving lives was much more crucial.
“Of course the extension of the recalibration programme will save many businesses from closing down due to labour shortage, ’’ said Abdul Rahim.
However, he added that it would be a bigger tragedy if the workers are denied vaccination and end up contracting and passing Covid-19 to others.
“So, the workers retained under the recalibration programme must be given priority in the national immunisation programme, ’’ said Abdul Rahim.
Under the recalibration programme previously, employers in the construction, manufacturing, plantation, and agriculture sectors are allowed to employ undocumented foreign workers and the programme has now been extended to cover the wholesale and retail, restaurants, cargo as well as cleaning services.
Klang Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Association president Foo Yen Lay applauded the move as it would help businesses stay afloat.
“SMEs will certainly continue to benefit from the recalibration programme as we need workers to continue operations, ’’ he said.
Foo added this will also continue to provide employers with a conduit to legalise and document their workers who have been lurking in the shadows all this while.
He said however there was also a need for the authorities to ensure those applying to employ and legalise foreign workers truly needed them and that it was strictly for their own businesses only.
Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry domestic trade committee chairman N. Ravichandran said the extension of the recalibration programme and inclusion of the new sectors would allow employers, especially in the retail sector, to settle their acute labour shortage problem.
“Workers in the textile and cash and carry stores, who had gone back to India for their annual break, are not able to come back due to the pandemic and because of this, many businesses are starting to shut down, ’’ he said.
According to Ravichandran, it was tough getting locals to work in these sectors as most wanted weekends off and eight-hour working days.
Hence business owners have no choice but to hire foreigners.
“Since we cannot hire directly from overseas currently due to the pandemic, the extension will allow us to seek out foreign workers locally, ’’ he added.