‘Inhumane’ to replace foreign workers with locals, says labour group

The MTUC has criticised a proposal that foreign workers be replaced by Malaysians because of the slowing economy.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has hit out at a proposal for Malaysians to replace foreign workers, describing it as “inhumane”.

The proposal could lead to social issues of “gargantuan proportions” and may also spark several problems, including diplomatic ones, said the MTUC, a federation of private sector unions.

The Malaysian Employers’ Federation had made the proposal earlier today as being necessary because of the loss of jobs suffered by Malaysians as a result of restrictions on movements for two weeks and a slowing of the economy. Thousands of locals could work as security guards if working conditions were improved and the job scope rebranded, it said.

MEF executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said it would be difficult to immediately dismiss the majority of foreign workers, but urged the government to draw a timeline for doing so as soon as possible.

However MTUC questioned how MEF intended to replace foreign workers overnight during the Covid-19 crisis when “they refused to replace them with locals when there was no crisis”.

“The government and the taxpayers’ funds would be used for that.”

MTUC also said it was “mischievous” of MEF to moot such a solution when employers were the reason behind the over-dependence on foreign workers, as well as undocumented foreign workers, to depress wages and working conditions in the country.

“It was a deliberate and conscious act on the part of employers to abuse foreign workers, in order to maximise their profits.”

MTUC called for all workers and the people in the country, particularly those in the B40 and M40 categories, to be protected during the Covid-19 emergency.

“Foreign workers should not be treated any differently,” it said, adding employers who attempted to exploit the situation for their benefit should be exposed and sanctioned.

Earlier this week Putrajaya enforced the Movement Control Order for two weeks until March 31 to curb the spread of Covid-19 which has already claimed eight lives in Malaysia.

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