KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 — Congress of Unions of Employees in Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) has hailed the government’s decision to require employers to pay the levy of their foreign workers effective Jan 1, 2017 because they must be responsible for their welfare.
Its President, Datuk Azih Muda, said the levy would not burden the employers but aimed to ensure that they were responsible for their workers from the time of their appointment to the time they returned to their countries.
“We don’t want the government to bear the extra burden of paying for the medical treatment of the foreign workers. There were records of non-payment by them (workers) for treatment in government hospitals,” he told Bernama.
He said employers should adopt more creative measures to attract local workers in the 3D (dirty, dangerous & difficult) sector because there were locals who wanted the jobs.
“I think they (employers) do not advertise the vacancies. What’s wrong in advertising? I am sure that if they offer reasonable wages they can attract many local workers,” he said.
Azih said the number of foreign workers has increased since many industries in the private sector were privatized and this has jeopardised the chances of locals to get jobs.
“We have seen that since the start of privatization, the number of foreign workers has increased, where before their work could be done by locals.
“Therefore, I think the levy decision is fair and good so that the foreign workers would not become a liability to the government,” he said.
Meanwhile, President of the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association, Denis Low Jau Foo, has estimated that the rubber glove industry would need to pay up to RM90 million a year just for the levy alone.
In a statement today, the association said, this estimation has not taken into account the additional costs on housing and transport expected of the employers under the Employer Mandatory Commitment.
Instead of being repatriated, he said, the RM90 million could be put to better use in the pursuit of modernisation and automation of factories in order to be less dependent on foreign workers.
“The new policy would also meant a big amount of money up to RM5 billion a year will be repatriated outside Malaysia, causing another cash drain for the country,” he said.
The National Association of Private Employment Agencies Malaysia (Pikap) has asked the government to postpone the implementation of the levy and find a holistic approach because of present uncertain economic situation.
Its President, Datuk Raja Zulkepley Dahalan, said the sudden decision has affected the employers because it would not only be a burden on operational costs but also risk closure of the company due to the difficult of getting legal foreign workers.
“If this new policy continues, I’m afraid the foreign workers will ‘run’ away. Also, the big companies might shift their operations to countries where the recruitment of foreign workers would be cheaper like Cambodia and Vietnam,” he said.
He said the government needed to be firm in the enforcement of the law and arrest and charge workers and employers or seize the assets of the company in default and not through the settlement via the payment of the levy under the Employer Mandatory Commitment. — Bernama