No foreign workers, barber shops trim down

Mindas treasurer Jeyakumar Manokaran (holding up document) says since 2016, there has been a 40% decrease in the number of hairdressing salons.

KUALA LUMPUR: Many barbershops are closing down because there have been no approvals for new foreign workers since 2009, the Malaysian Indian Hairdressing Saloon Owners Association (Mindas) said today.

“That’s why there are so many businesses at the verge of closing down,” said Mindas youth secretary Menaqkumar Murthi during a press conference at a hotel here today.

Menaqkumar said under the usual system, any foreign worker leaving can be replaced with another foreign worker.

But the government has announced that it is abolishing this replacement system in 2021, he said.

Last month, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the government will stop the employment of foreign workers in the hairdressing, goldsmith, laundry and textile industries from 2021.

“We support this policy to give opportunities to Malaysians. We’ve already registered these vacancies but there are no applications from the locals,” Murthi said.

“We are willing to pay local workers RM2,000, but no one is applying.”

Mindas treasurer Jeyakumar Manokaran said this policy on foreign workers will eventually force them to raise the cost of a haircut from RM10 to between RM30 and RM45.

“When we can’t get manpower, then we will be shorthanded. We have to raise the price because otherwise, we can’t pay the rent and other utilities of the shop,” said Jeyakumar.

“This will definitely affect the B40 group because most of our customers are from the low-income group.”

He said that there are around 2,100 Indian barbershops currently operating in Malaysia, but a lot of them are on the verge of closing down.

“Since 2016, 14 members have been forced to close down their shops due to lack of manpower and rising costs,” Jeyakumar said.

“Our profits only round up to between RM3,000 and RM3,500 monthly, after paying salaries and more.”

Mindas has appealed to the home ministry to allow Indian barbershops to continue hiring foreign workers.