Jan 16, 2017

Fishermen want foreign labour policy rescinded


Fishermen want foreign labour policy rescinded

MANJUNG, Jan 16 — Twenty-four fishing associations are up in arms over a new foreign worker policy change.

The associations from Selangor, Johor, Kedah, Perak, Langkawi, Penang, Perlis and Kuantan are objecting to a policy that forces them to register their foreign workers with the Home Ministry instead of the Fisheries Department.

Under the new regulations, which take effect on March 1, they claim they will be forced to pay more and wait longer for their workers to be registered.

The associations’ spokesman, Kee Yau Leng, said the increased waiting period would cause fishermen to lose manpower.

“Before this, it took one day to register the workers with the Fisheries Department. Now, it will take longer because the Home Ministry will carry out health screenings and other documentations,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

“If it takes too long, the workers will run home because they won’t be able to work without documentation. Their income is based on harvest. Without them, many of us will be stranded because most local people do not want to work on fishing boats.”

Kee pointed out that boat owners would hesitate to continue fishing if their workers were not registered.

“Some workers go back every month to see their families. If the process takes two weeks, they won’t feel like coming back,” he said.

“Boat owners will not go out to sea because anyone caught with unregistered workers will face court action and their assets will be frozen,” he said.

“We estimate that about 90 per cent of the fresh fish supply will be affected if the policy is implemented. The prices of fish will also increase.”

Kee said jobs in the fishing industry could be affected by the chain reaction.

“Without any fish, transportation and food processing factories will also be hit. We worry that jobs could also be lost. With the fall in the value of the ringgit, fishermen are already facing pressure to keep foreign workers. Many of them prefer to go to Thailand where they could earn more,” he said.

“This is why we urge the government to rescind this ruling. We hope the Home Ministry and Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry will consider meeting us to have a dialogue on this issue.”

Kee estimated that about 40,000 foreign workers were employed by the 20,000 members of the 24 associations.

“If the fresh fish supply drops, the authorities will have to import fish from overseas and this will burden consumers,” he said.

Original source: themalaymail

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