Association wants a say in matter

PETALING JAYA: The association representing barbershops wants to be directly involved in the distribution of the 7,500 foreign workers who will be allowed into the country.

This would be better than allowing foreign workers to be recruited through online platforms, said Malaysia Indian Hair Dressing Owners Association assistant secretary M. Meenaq Kumar.

Based on past experience, he said the online process would only see agents getting foreign workers in large numbers, leaving industry players frustrated.

“We want the 7,500 new workers to be channelled in the proper way. We know who are legitimate.

“Otherwise, agents and brokers will take advantage yet again. They will go in (online) and get 1,000 to 2,000 workers at a time and then outsource these workers to non-industry players who then will open new barbershops.

“We don’t need new barbershops. The existing ones can barely operate due to a lack of workers, which is why we made the request for foreign workers in the first place. I hope the 7,500 workers will solve our problems instead of becoming yet another issue,” he said.

On Sept 4, in response to complaints that three subsectors – barbershops, textile stores, and goldsmiths – had been badly affected by staff shortages, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced a partial approval for the hiring of foreign workers for them.

Human Resources Minister V. Sivakumar later said the government had decided to allow 7,500 foreign workers in.

Meenaq Kumar said the subsectors had waited too long for new workers, while brokers only cared about about making money.

“We have waited 14 years so please don’t disappoint us,” he said.

Meenaq Kumar also that while he welcomed the government’s decision, the 7,500 figure was still not enough.

“We are thankful. But, realistically, it is not enough. Each barbershop may only get one additional worker. We are hoping for a long-term solution.”

According to Meenaq Kumar, there were about 4,000 barbershops nationwide prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. About 30% of them have since closed.

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