Decent pay but there are hardly any takers

Popular spot: Customers lining up outside Hameediyah Restaurant at Campbell Street in George Town, Penang. — KT GOH/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: The pay package is equal to joining almost any fast food restaurant but Malaysians just do not seem interested in working in nasi kandar outlets.

Even with a basic pay of RM1,800 and overtime claims, plus contributions to the Employees Provident Fund and Social Security Organisation, a huge manpower vacuum has developed in this sub-sector.

To make things worse, many foreign workers of these outlets have trouble entering the country due to travel restrictions.

Indian Muslim Community Organisation Malaysia president Mohamed Rizwan Abdul Ghafoor Khan said many Indian-Muslim eateries in Penang were currently severely short of staff.

During the movement control order, some restaurants had no choice but to send their foreign workers home to reduce cost.

“With the interstate travel ban lifted recently, we now have many customers but can’t serve them well due to our staffing problems,” he said.

Mohamed Rizwan said there were around 200 big and small Indian-Muslim restaurants in Penang, which needed about 20 workers each or around 4,000 workers at any one time.

“For now, we only have half of that. We have vacancies for locals but they do not want the job,” he said at a press conference in front of Hameediyah Restaurant in Campbell Street here yesterday.

Local employees, he said, were only required to work for eight hours a day and would be paid overtime for extra hours.

“They get to take home RM2,000 to RM2,500 per month,” he said.

Mohamed Rizwan added that many restaurant owners were desperate as they did not have enough workers to ensure adherence to Covid-19 precautions.

“There are many customers lining up outside our restaurants and we feel bad for them as they have to be under the sun and rain.

“We need to add at least four more workers just to take care of the standard operating procedure.

“Many shorthanded restaurants dare not allow dine-in. In fact, some even have to close as there are not enough workers,” he said.

On Thursday, The Star reported Malaysian Indian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan as saying that there were many vacancies at most Indian-Muslim restaurants.

An estimated 10,000 locals in managerial and supervisory roles and 20,000 to 25,000 foreign workers for operations are needed.

He revealed that a recruitment drive for locals held in Negri Sembilan last week saw no one turning up despite a government agency calling some 400 candidates to attend interviews.

Hameediyah Restaurant managing partner Ahamed Seeni Pakir Abdul Sukkor hopes the government will take appropriate steps to allow foreign workers to return.

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