JOHOR BARU: Business groups here have lauded the Home Ministry for its proposal to extend two labour supply programmes involving foreign workers.
Johor Indian Muslim Entrepreneur Association secretary Hussein Ibrahim said employers, especially restaurant owners, would need to wait until the lockdown had eased to decide if they need to employ more foreign workers under the Labour Recalibration Programme.
“For now, most restaurant owners may not need to get more workers due to the lockdown and dine-in restrictions. In fact, most restaurant owners are giving their workers leave as there is not much work to do,” he said.
Johor Master Builders Association president Tee See Kim said the extension of the programmes will give employers more time to send applications or documents to the relevant government agencies to legally employ undocumented foreign workers.
“The labour recalibration programme is a great initiative. If the plan is implemented only until the end of June, there will not be much time to process these foreign workers due to the lockdown,” he said, adding that the extension should be for a year.
Tee said that as about 80% of workers from the public sector are currently working from home, slow progress is expected in the processing of the applications.
The Star reported yesterday that Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin would propose to the Cabinet to extend the labour recalibration and repatriation recalibration programmes, with the minister saying he was aware that more time was needed due to the ongoing national lockdown.
The programmes, due to end on June 30, were launched by the government last November to regularise the foreign workforce and to allow those who had overstayed to return to their countries without the involvement of third parties or agents.
In GEORGE TOWN, Small and Medium Enterprises Association secretary-general Yeoh Seng Hooi welcomed the move.
“With no new supply of foreign workers, both multinational companies (MNCs) and small enterprises are seeking workers from the same pool.
“It is like fishing in the same pond, as MNCs are also ‘pinching’ workers from the supporting industries that need them.
“As such, the recalibration programme can help keep the workers here for a while,” said Yeoh, who added the manufacturing industry had just picked up pace before the latest lockdown.
In KLANG, Malay Businessmen and Industrialists Association of Malaysia president Mejar (R) Datuk Abdul Rahim Saad said the extension of the programmes will save the construction and property development industries from going bust.
“These two sectors have to pay high penalties if they are not able to complete jobs within the given time frame, even if it is because of a labour shortage,” he said.
Abdul Rahim also called on the government to give priority to the retained foreign workers here for its vaccination programme.