PETALING JAYA: A restaurant association has raised concerns over the poaching of foreign workers from the sector, which puts an already embattled industry at risk of further setbacks.
Having weathered over 18 months of Covid-19 restrictions, some in the industry are concerned there could now be a shortage of workers.
Many members of the Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors General Association are complaining that they are facing labour issues, according to the group’s president, Wong Teu Hoon.
“Because of the pandemic and closed borders, a lot of foreign workers went home and could not return,” he told FMT.
“Since this is affecting many other industries, many have begun to target our workers and we have had members tell us their foreign workers are running off to other employers.”
He said a lack of workers had made the long road to recovery even more challenging for those affected.
“Some of them have opted not to open for dining in, some have had to make their menus shorter, and we’ve heard of some businesses that must turn away customers during peak hours because they cannot keep up with the demand.
“As a result, they’re losing even more money during an already difficult time.”
He suggested that the government introduce a quota system for the industry to allow those needing workers to import them.
An industry veteran who has worked at restaurants around the Klang Valley and requested not to be named said he had heard that cafes and bars were particularly affected by the labour shortage.
“At some of the high-end places, this may not be an issue, but it’s a bigger problem for places that rely heavily on foreign workers,” he said.
“There have been instances where restaurant owners or managers have tried to poach workers from other restaurants.”
According to other industry sources, the problem could get worse as businesses ramp up operations and new outlets emerge.