Find other options for foreign workers, govt told

Labour shortage: A laundry cleaning service worker at a hotel is seen changing some items at a room in a hotel in George Town. The tourism industry has been badly hit by the lack of foreign workers.

GEORGE TOWN: With Indonesia deciding to stop sending its nationals to work here, at least for now, businesses are asking the government to quickly look at other options.

The decision has left those waiting for Indonesian maids in a lurch while the tourism sector has also been badly hit.

“We desperately need foreign workers so that the tourism industry can bounce back from the pandemic,” said Malaysian Association of Hotels Penang chapter chairman Tony Goh.

He said other industries were affected too – hotels urgently need foreign labour, especially in the housekeeping department.

“I truly hope the government can do something to solve this issue. Our members are looking to recruit more workers,” he added.

On Wednesday, Indonesian Ambassador Hermono said his country has stopped receiving new job orders for migrant workers in all sectors for the time being.

He, however, said the recruitment job orders approved earlier would proceed.

Maid agencies said they were now in the dark as to when domestic workers would be coming over.

One agent, who wished to be known as Baby Goh, said she believed one of the obstacles was the Sistem Maid Online which was supposed to ease the application process.

“It’s a hassle for us. I think the system is not ready for this purpose yet,” she said.

The agent said she was told by her counterpart in Indonesia that the government there had not officially allowed its nationals to work in Malaysia.

As such, Indonesian agents also could not start the recruitment process of maids.

“However, there is no issue with the application process for maids from other countries such as the Philippines.

“Usually, it takes three to four months to get a Filipino maid but Malaysian employers prefer Indonesians as their salary is lower,” she said.

Malaysia Furniture Council adviser Datuk Cha Hoo Peng said the furniture industry was also badly hit.

“Locals prefer to work in electronics factories rather than in furniture manufacturing plants, so we have to rely largely on foreign labour,” he said.

He said if the situation was not addressed fast, it could have a drastic domino effect on other smaller industries.

On April 1, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan and Indonesia’s manpower minister Ida Fauziyah had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Jakarta on the Employment and Protection of Indonesian Domestic Workers.

Under the MOU, the republic requires all recruitment to be done only through the One Channel System.

The system will screen employers and ensure that only those eligible could hire Indonesian domestic workers at a minimum monthly salary of RM1,500.

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