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Introduce foreign worker ratio system

New Straits Times, Malaysia, 6 August 2018 - The government should introduce a ratio system that allows for the hiring of a maximum number of foreign workers in a company based on its total workforce.

This would allow the government to control the number of foreign workers, said Malaysian Trades Union Congress president Datuk Abdul Halim Mansor.

The ratio system, which has been adopted in many countries, including Singapore, would ensure that locals were hired.

In Singapore, for every foreign worker hired, a company must employ 10 locals.

“The authorities need to conduct an audit on the total workforce needed before they come up with a ratio,” said Halim, who suggested that the country could start with having five local workers to every foreign worker hired.

He said the government should ensure the more than 500,000 students graduating every year had skills that industries need.

“Practical training should be compulsory for students for at least one year, only then can they obtain skilled worker certification.

“It is important to have the country’s own pool of workforce, where every graduate has their name registered in a database that industry players can access when looking for employees.”

He stressed the importance of employers or business owners undergoing training to learn more about laws and their responsibilities to employees.

An employer who was well aware of his responsibilities could ensure a conducive and healthy work environment that would attract local workers, he said.

He said the government and industry players must also invest in new technology because failure to modernise operations was a reason the country was heavily dependent on manual labour.

“After so many years, why are we still using the conventional way of tapping rubber? Why isn’t any research done to make rubber tapping easier?”

With at least 35,000 workers laid off a year, Halim highlighted the need to equip workers with on-job certification.

“The system is similar to the one used by pilots, where their qualifications are based on flying hours. So, when workers are laid off, they don’t have to start from scratch. When they start anew, they will be paid according to their experience.”

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said more incentives, such as tax breaks and double tax reduction, should be introduced to encourage manufacturers to invest in mechanisation and automation.

He stressed the need to upgrade “socially unacceptable” work by investing in technology.

“For example, a sweeper may only be able to clean an area as far as 1km. With machines, the handler will be able to clean 15km per day, but, of course, he needs to be paid more for his expertise in operating the machine.”

He said locals should have their skills upgraded and be certified for them to be paid higher than foreign workers.

“We hope the government will consider waiving the RM300 fee to encourage employers to enrol employees in the Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia 1 course.”

He said the government should consider using the more than 200,000 retirees per year and attract more women to the workforce.


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