‘Spend more on hiring local workers’

PETALING JAYA: Business operators should consider spending more on hiring local workers by offering higher wages rather than incurring costs acquiring foreign labour, suggests a group.

Association of Employment Agencies Malaysia (Papa) vice-president Suresh Tan said that one of the factors blue collar jobs, especially in the manufacturing sector, were not compelling for locals was because of unattractive salaries.

He said instead of spending on recruitment fees for migrant workers, employers could provide higher salaries to locals while at the same time ensuring lower unemployment among Malaysians.

“Since employers are incurring more costs bringing in foreign workers, why not spend more money providing hostels and transportation for the locals?

“Take that cost and increase the wages of the locals. Through this, locals will be more attracted to work in the sector,” he said.

Tan, however, conceded that employers may prefer foreign labour as they have a better attitude as well as more likely to produce better work compared to locals.

He said that by employing foreigners, the employers also would not have to deal with absenteeism and high turnover rates.

“Foreign workers are much easier to manage even though the cost is higher because they are more disciplined (compared to locals).

“The workers came to Malaysia to make money, hence, there will not be any issue for them to work hard and will not badly affect the factory’s production,” he added.

Tan was commenting on the issue that some employers would let go of local workers in favour of foreigners as it was now easier to get approval from the government.

On Jan 18, Human Resources Minister V. Sivakumar announced that 500,000 foreign workers would be brought into the country in stages via the Foreign Workers Employment Relaxation Plan to address the shortage of manpower.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail was reported as saying that the plan allowed employers to hire workers from 15 source countries without having to meet quota requirements and employment eligibility prerequisites.

Following the relaxation, some local factory workers in the northern states claimed that their contracts would be terminated as their employers would replace them with foreign workers.

The Star was told by sources that some of the contracts could be terminated as early as next month.

However, Tan said that despite the relaxation, the job market will not be affected and locals will not be sidelined when foreign workers arrive in the country.

He added that the shortage of workers would still continue as businesses ramp up to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Nivas Ragavan said many efforts have been done to attract locals to dangerous, dirty and difficult (3D) jobs, but the situation remained unchanged.

“The current acute shortage of blue collar workers in all main industries has worsened because of shortage of foreign workers, while Malaysians shun the 3D jobs.

“Therefore, it led to the employers and industries being totally dependent on foreign workers for 3D jobs simply because numerous attempts to woo local talent have proved to be futile,” he added.

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