Covid-19: MTUC S’wak urges state govt to set up ministry of human resources

Andrew Lo

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Dec 3: The emergence of Covid-19 pandemic earlier this year has necessitated the urgent need to set up a ministry of human resource in Sarawak to ensure that the state government will be able to handle the needs of various sectors.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) Sarawak secretary Andrew Lo poiunted out that since the pandemic struck the state in February this year, many sectors had been affected by the lack of workers.

“During this Covid-19, we can see how ill-prepared we are in dealing with the lack of manpower for critical sectors such as the construction sector.

“So, for the long-term plan, there is an urgent need to set up the State Ministry of Human Resource to ensure that we will be well-prepared to tackle workers’ issues to further develope Sarawak,” Lo told DayakDaily today.

He disclosed that he has been highlighting the need to set up such a ministry over the past 20 years.

On the setting up of a committee to look into the needs of workers in the construction sector, Lo said such a committee must include industry players and unions.

Recently, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had highlighted that the state was short of some 5,600 workers in the construction sector due to the state’s Covid-19 travel restrictions on foreigners.

“As you know before the Movement Control Order (MCO in March), some of these workers went back (to their home country), but now we have very strict entry regulations for the state, they are not able to come back to work.

“So what we are going to do now is to look into all of this, especially for our foreign workers. We are short of more than 5,000 workers in the construction sector,” Abang Johari was reported as saying after announcing the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) 4.0 in Kuching recently.

During the same function, the chief minister also announced the setting up of a committee to facilitate reskilling programmes for local workers, chaired by Deputy Chief minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion.

On the Migrant Worker’s Dialogue Series which was organised yesterday, Lo, who was one of the speakers revealed that among the issues highlighted was the need for greater awareness for all the stakeholders including the policy-makers, employers and employees (including foreign workers) on their respective rights. — DayakDaily