MTUC demands Putrajaya announce policy on foreign labour

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KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) wants the government to announce a policy on foreign workers as a matter of national interest.

It also wants the government to take serious measures to stamp out the problem of undocumented foreign workers in the country.

The MTUC urged the government to have an urgent meeting with all stakeholders on the matter.

“We are willing to share our expertise and cooperation with the government, and all relevant ministries,” said MTUC Secretary-General N.Gopal Kishnam in a statement. “The absence of a clear policy is not good for Malaysia’s image and reputation.”

He was commenting on Human Resources Minister Richard Riot disclosing that “for every 10 legal workers in Malaysia, there were seven illegals”.

The number of undocumented foreign workers in the country, pointed out Kishnam, showed it was high time for a policy on foreign workers. “An official announcement must be made as soon as possible,” he reiterated.

“Everyone will be clear on the policy only if it’s announced.”

A single, clear policy on foreign workers was vital for the industry and the country in the long run, he added.

MTUC disagrees with extreme dependence on foreign workers.

“Undocumented labour will hamper the government’s efforts to reduce dependence on foreign workers by 2020,” reminded Kishnam.

If Malaysia was to move forward from depending on foreign workers, he continued, industry and employers must work together with government.

MTUC feels the Human Resources Ministry should be given the primary role on foreign workers.

Meanwhile, the MTUC expressed cautious optimism that a new income tax scheme announced in Budget 2017 would help companies address retrenchment issues and heavy reliance on foreign workers.

“Employers should use the new tax scheme to upgrade skills and technologies to improve productivity,” said Kishnam. “This will reduce the need for foreign workers.”