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Monitoring system on worker retrenchment needed

KUALA LUMPUR, 26 Nov 2008: The MCA has urged the government to create a monitoring system on worker retrenchment to ensure that local workers are not the first to be terminated by the private sector during an economic downturn.

Deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said in the event of retrenchment by the private sector, foreign workers should be the first to be terminated and not locals.

He said to reduce cost, employers would normally take the easy way out to reduce workers by terminating the services of local workers as they earned higher than foreigners.

“With declining economic growth, the number of unemployed will rise and we hope the government and private sector will retrench foreign workers first, not local workers,” he told a press conference at Wisma MCA here today.

Chua said there were some 2.1 million legal foreign workers and about 500,000 illegal workers and that the 2.6 million foreign workers could have negative effects on the country.

“If the ratio of foreign workers is over 10% of the population (about 28 million), then we should be worried as it will lead to social issues like security and diseases.”

He said the number of foreign workers had increased by three fold in eight years from 750,000 in 2000 to 2.1 million presently.

Chua who is also the government policy monitoring bureau chairman said the government wanted to reduce 400,000 foreign workers annually until 2010 starting this year but did not specify how it could be achieved.

“It was only a statement. How can we achieve the target if no detailed information is available? If no concrete measures are taken, then it will only remain a political statement.”

He added 35,000-50,000 Malaysians working in Singapore were expected to lose their jobs due to the economic downturn and that their future must also be looked into.

As such, the government should ensure that workers were trained to meet the job market demand and that the training modules should also be tailored for the purpose.

Chua said it was time that a minimum wage system be created for sectors like construction, manufacturing and domestic maid so that the dependency on foreign workers could be reduced. — Bernama


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