KUCHING, Apr 30: Sarawak Malaysian Trades Union (MTUC) chairman Mohd Ibrahim calls for the government to address the country’s dependency on foreign workers, and invest on labour productivity through higher value and high-skilled jobs.
Mohd Ibrahim in a statement today said it was really exasperating that the government had yet to decide on whether to trim the country’s dependence on foreign labour and to reduce the number of foreign workers.
“Our country wants to improve on the labour productivity through higher value and highly skilled jobs, this will remain a pipe dream as there is no incentive for employers to invest in technology and modern production methods as long as there are abundantly cheap and mostly illegal foreign workers,” he said.
Mohd Ibrahim also claimed that the country had been creating low value jobs to suit foreign workers and feed their agents for years.
He said that it made no sense to push for economic growth and investment that created low paying jobs for more than four million foreign workers as these workers sent their wages back home to help on the development of their own countries.
“Up to 80 per cent of workers in the timber and plantation industries are foreign workers, and 85 per cent of the small and medium enterprise (SME) are also employing illegal foreign workers, while tens of thousands of Sarawakians, that have to leave their families to work in Singapore, Johore, Kuala Lumpur and Penang,” he added.
At the same time, Mohd Ibrahim stated that corruption and corrupt practice in all forms and levels must also be eliminated.
He explained that unscrupulous practices undermined the implementation of government policies and threatened the effectiveness, transparency and fairness of enforcement.
“A glaring example is the recruiting agents for foreign workers. With an estimated fee of RM8,000 per worker, these agents stand to rake in RM32 billion every two years (four million workers X RM8,000),” he said.
Meanwhile, Mohd Ibrahim also reminded the government to move ahead and continue the much needed comprehensive labour law reforms to offer greater protection to workers and their unions.
According to him, the government, workers and trade unions must grasp this opportunity to push for changes and embrace international labour standards and practices.
“This will facilitate greater empowerment of workers and recognition of trade unions to enable them to bargain for fair wages.
“The current laws make it easier for employers to sack workers and stifle trade unions with less than 3 per cent of workers in private sector members of trade unions. As a result, Collective Bargaining is nothing more than collective begging,” he said.
Mohd Hisham added that employers must realise that failure to do so will risk their business to be left out of the global supply chain.
“We have seen evidence from countries where unions are strong, effective, representative and independent that the real wages have increased.
“What is more important, the industry or enterprise that they exist in has flourished, where profitability and productivity is amongst the highest,” he said. —DayakDaily.