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The Edge

Malaysian industries call for one-stop foreign worker centre

Employers say this would eliminate the problem of outsourcing agencies

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 January, 2017, 12:01pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 January, 2017, 12:03pm

By Sangeetha Amarthalingam

Malaysian industry employers are calling for a one-stop foreign workers recruitment centre that is transparent and simple, with a steady supply of labour, in order to eliminate outsourcing agencies.

Malaysian Iron and Steel Industry Federation president Soh Thian Lai said the agencies were among the factors behind the excess “import” of foreign workers for profiteering reasons.

Soh’s statement comes a day after the postponement of the employer-borne foreign workers levy to 2018, which had initially been slated to take effect on January 1. It will be subject to further scrutiny by the government and industries this year.

Yesterday, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the deferment was necessary in the absence of a proper ecosystem under the newly-introduced Employer Mandatory Commitment.

Soh said the deferment is only temporary because the government would eventually implement it or “leave it hanging” as business operations require long-term foreign worker policies.

“Employers should be able to recruit foreign workers without undergoing the hassle of government authorities, or worse, going through outsourced agents,” he said.

“We need a one-stop foreign workers recruitment authority with standard operating procedures, and terms and conditions, in place. Employers in all sectors can apply online. If they fulfil the conditions, approval can be granted,” Soh added.

He also suggested the government form a special enforcement task force with clear guidelines to enforce and regulate foreign workers in Malaysia to prevent malpractice and corruption.

“There must be a well-planned, open, business-friendly, holistic and consistent foreign workers policy instead of flip-flop [ones] which cause uncertainty to the industries,” he said.

Soh said enforcement would be stricter if employers are allowed to recruit directly; therefore there would not be a need to employ illegal foreign workers.

Master Builders Association Malaysia president Foo Chek Lee said the government should ensure that workers are mobilised to the project site within a month, and that the process of legalising existing illegal workers be made more transparent, simpler and cheaper.

“The process should be undertaken by the Immigration Department and not third party companies which may be open to abuse,” he said.

Foo expressed relief over the postponement of the new ruling, saying it would give the industry time to plan for, and adjust to, the transition.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (Margma) president Denis Low Jau Foo said its members want workers, and know how to manage and treat them.

“Otherwise, no workers will want to come and work for our industry. For the moment, our industry is very short of workers and we plead with the government to expedite the process.

“We are certain that our pragmatic Deputy Prime Minister [cum] Home Minister [Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi] will once again come forward to assist the industry in this matter,” Low said in a statement.

He added that Margma’s members would invest further into new and automated plants in order to sustain and maintain Malaysia’s leadership as the world’s largest producer of medical rubber gloves.

Industries call for one-stop foreign worker centre