Taking African workers for plantation work just a proposal, says Mahathir

The human resources ministry is talking to African nations interested in sending their men to work in plantations here.

PETALING JAYA: The government’s proposal to take foreign workers from Africa to work in the plantation sector is still at the proposal stage, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

“Malaysians do not want to work, so we give everything to others (foreigners).

“On the proposal, we have not made any decision. It is merely a suggestion,” he said at a Hari Raya open house function in Langkawi today, Bernama reported.

Yesterday, Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran said his ministry had received requests from employers wanting such workers for their plantation sector.

He said foreign workers from Vietnam and Indonesia were no longer interested in working here as the salary received was not too different from their countries of origin.

“I have been discussing with the ambassadors of African nations recently and they will get the views of their respective governments on the matter.”

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) president Abdul Halim Mansor today urged the ministry to reconsider its proposal and to find ways to reduce the dependency on foreign workers.

He said more than a million Malaysians were working as labourers overseas. This would indicate that the minimum wage of RM1,100 was too low.

He noted that the ministry itself had said that a survey had shown that 30% of employers were not even paying their workers this minimum wage.

Halim warned that foreign workers might not be able to adapt to local customs and practices.

He noted that foreign workers were often denied off days and as such may be reluctant to work.

He estimated that 500,000 foreign workers were employed in the plantation sector.