GEORGE TOWN: Cleaning services operator Baby Goh has lost more than half of her Indonesian workforce since Malaysia was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic last year.
“I used to have more than 30 Indonesian cleaners, but almost half of them returned home after their permits expired.
“My application for a new batch of workers has since been put on hold as the borders are still closed due to the outbreak,” said Goh, who has been in the business for over 30 years.
The Star had earlier reported that employers needing foreign workers and those yet to settle issues related to repatriating workers could heave a huge sigh of relief as the Home Ministry would support an extension of the two programmes involved.
Maid agency operator Syed Mohamad Aidid, 30, said locals should take up the jobs left vacant by foreign domestic helpers.
He said this would address shortage of workers in several key economic sectors and reduce unemployment among locals.
“This is an opportunity for them to get hired.
“Don’t feel uneasy filling up the void in the workforce, thinking that it is ‘second-class’ employment only suitable for senior citizens or foreigners,” said Syed Mohamed, who has had to close his agency temporarily since he has no workers at the moment.
Meanwhile Penang human resources, education, science and technology committee chairman Dr P. Ramasamy said the government’s labour recalibration programme should be extended to foreign domestic maids.
Under the programme, employers in the construction, manufacturing, plantation, and agriculture sectors are allowed to employ undocumented foreign workers.
Ramasamy said the programme could help cater to the demand for foreign domestic helpers.
“It will solve the shortage of foreign domestic helpers from countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and others.
“It is impossible to get domestic helpers from overseas as international borders are still closed.
“Even if we allow some of them in, it could create more problems, especially at a time when we are still fighting Covid-19,” he added.