PETALING JAYA: Malaysian employers are “raising” the depreciated ringgit on their own for the benefit of millions of foreign workers here.
Many, on their own accord, are paying their foreign workers more to make up for the shortfall caused by the falling ringgit.
Besides households employing foreign domestic workers, several restaurant operators and construction firms have also been paying their foreign workers more out of compassion.
Original Penang Kayu Nasi Kandar managing director Burhan Mohamed said he had increased his employees’ wages by 5% to 10%, depending on their length of service.
“It’s difficult for them right now because with the depreciated ringgit, they are sending less money back home. I want to help them until the ringgit recovers.
“It’s extra cost but we want to reward our workers,” he said, adding that he had increased the wages of over 200 of his foreign workers, who are mostly from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Operators Association president Noorul Hassan Saul Hameed said the salaries of foreign workers had shrinked due to the weaker ringgit.
“Hopefully, we can work out a temporary solution,” he said, adding that restaurant workers are paid between RM900 and RM2,000 depending on experience.
Reza from Bangladesh, who has been working in Malaysia for five years says RM1 equalled to about 30 taka previously.
“Now it is only about 16 to 17 taka. My wife and I recently had a child, so I have to work extra hard to send back enough money,” he added.
In Butterworth, an Indonesian cleaner who wished to be known as Ina, 44, lamented that to exchange a million rupiah now, she had to fork out RM370, compared to RM290 in June.
“I send home RM700 of my RM950 monthly pay, but my family is getting much less rupiah now,” she added.
Bangladeshi construction worker Hanana Shamim, 38, who has been working in Malaysia for four years said he transfers RM800 of his RM1,400 salary into his wife’s account.
“My family have asked me about the reduced amount. I said I’m doing my best to save as much as I can. Prices of items here have also gone up,” he said.
A restaurant owner in Chai Leng Park who wished to be known as Tan, 58, said that salary was a sensitive issue among his foreign workers.
“I have six Nepali workers. They told me that the value of the ringgit has dropped by about 20% and they have been hinting at a raise,” he added.
In Johor Baru, journalist Norshikin Mohd Salleh, 38, said she did not mind raising her Indonesian maid’s salary.
“Hana has been working with me for six years. She is honest and reliable when looking after my three young daughters,” she said, adding that Hana was now paid RM1,000 compared to RM500 in 2009.
However, manager Julian Lee, 45, said paying RM750 to his maid was already double the amount compared to 10 years ago.
“Unless the maids coming from overseas are completely competent and qualified for the job, I cannot agree to a hike in their wages,” he said.
Adapted from The Star, 1 November 2015.