PETALING JAYA: Discussions to consider lifting the freeze on foreign worker recruitment for barber, goldsmith and textile shops have been conducted, says the Human Resources Minister.
"I've had discussions with the Home Minister and Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister today (March 24) regarding the freeze of foreign workers for the textile, barber and goldsmith subsectors.
"Recruitment for these subsectors has been frozen since 2009 and the admission for foreign workers has been stopped since 2019.
"I have discussed with the Home Minister to consider extending the temporary work permits for foreign workers for the three subsectors that would end in March to a more suitable date," said V. Sivakumar in a statement on Friday (March 24).
He added that while the government was aware of requests by employers to reopen recruitment for the subsectors, the procedures had to be followed including bringing the matter to the Cabinet before any announcement of a reopening could be made.
He added that any government decisions on matters regarding the hiring and freezing of foreign workers would be made based on the current situation and real needs of the employers.
The freeze, effective March 15, applies to textile, goldsmith and barber shops, with many of these operators saying they face closure due to what they call an "unfair ruling".
According to an Immigration Department circular, the last date to extend the temporary work passes was March 15, although the passes had not reached their maximum validity period of 13 years.
Workers whose permits ended before March 15 could only be renewed for a year, after which they would be repatriated.