Jan 13, 2017

Tok Pa: Foreign worker policy needs to be ironed out

Tok Pa: Foreign worker policy needs to be ironed out


KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet yesterday decided to put on hold a decision on foreign workers until a clear and firm decision is made on several issues including the procurement process, said International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed.

He said there were a lot of challenges with the policy because the country is in a transition period from the old to the new system.

“The old system was about legalising illegal workers. To look at the number of illegal workers that needS to be legalised according to the needs of the nation. We have more than 20% foreign workers, but under the 11th Malaysian Plan we need 15%.

“They (private sector) want labour to be easily available. They want transparency in the procurement of foreign labour,” he told reporters after the launch of the Smart Manufacturing and Automation Technology 2017, here, today.

He said the issues raised now were the manifestation of the problems faced in any change.

“The government recognises this and the Home Ministry and Paul Low (Minister in Prime Minister’s department) have been engaging with the private sector,” he said.

Mustapa, fondly known as Tok Pa added the Cabinet decided that there has to be a proper working paper on this issue before moving to the next level.

Even though the Cabinet had agreed on several decisions yesterday it could only move to the next level once firmer decisions were made, he said.

Mustapa added any decisions made were crucial to local companies and labour policies, and due to that, the whole “eco-system” needs to be put in place, adding that is why the government is in continuous engagement with the private sector.

Yesterday, Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the Cabinet had agreed to postpone to next year, the implementation of levy payment on foreign workers by employers, which will be enforced under the Employer Mandatory Commitment (EMC).

Some of the issues that need to be ironed out are levy posed on foreign workers, the right of the employer to have direct access to the workers, rather than going through a middleman, and ways to cut down bureaucracy for faster employment of foreign workers.

On Dec 31, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also home minister, had announced employers would be responsible for paying the levy of their foreign workers which would be enforced under the EMC.

On Jan 6, Parti Sosialis Malaysia had said it wanted the government to end the “inhumane practice” of allowing employers to deduct foreign workers’ levy from their monthly salary.

PSM central committee member Rani Rasiah had said most of the foreign workers were not told of the deductions when they were recruited but only knew about it when they landed in Malaysia.

Rani had said levy was charged on employers for hiring foreign labour instead of locals and had suggested raising the cost of migrant labour for the employers to compel them to recruit more locals and in the long run, reduce the country’s dependence on migrant workers.

Original source: Free Malaysia Today

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