The government is implementing a worker redeployment initiative to reduce job losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan said the initiative involved online registration by the workers through agencies such as the Department of Manpower Peninsular Malaysia, Social Security Organisation and Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Bhd.
He said the ministry found that many local workers and foreign workers who still have valid work permits were being terminated by their employers due to the pandemic.
“The ministry calls on employers to give priority to local workers to fill the vacancies that exist at their organisations, ” he said.
“If there is no response from local workers, then the employer is given the flexibility to hire foreign workers who had also been laid off by their previous employer.”
Saravanan also said employers who needed foreign workers could fill the vacancies if there was no response from locals, adding that the foreign workers hired must be those laid off and still holding valid work permits.
“This is because the government has given permission for the redeployment of workers by way of replacing the employers for foreign workers in the same sector, as well as other sectors depending on the case, ” Saravanan said.
In an immediate response, Labour Law Reform Commission co-chairman Gopal Kisham said while the government’s efforts to protect jobs was commendable, it would be meaningless if workers, especially locals, were offered low wages.
“It is estimated that a bachelor needs to earn at least RM2,700 to get by.
“If a worker lost his job and other openings paid below that amount, it would be meaningless.
“Workers need to be properly compensated, ” he said.
He said the government should take a leaf from Singapore, which he said offered a better compensation for workers, even in the 3D (dangerous, dirty and difficult) sector.
Railway Union of Malaysia president Abdul Razak Hasan said additional incentives would entice locals to take up job openings.
“Even a RM300 increase in cost of living allowance can encourage locals to take up the jobs, ” he said.
According to InterManpower, government has provided various initiatives for both employers and local workers to ensure they receive the help they needed.
“Government has provided assistant to employer to rehire local workers by giving incentive for every workers they hire.”
“This financial assistance will ensure employers are able to continue their workforce or recruit new workers into their organization.”
“Financial assistance also helps employers to remain competitive and able to support the market and help local workers which also help to reduce unemployment rate in the country.”
“We support the government efforts to ensure employers to hire local workers before considering hiring foreign workers although in some sectors it is very hard to get local workers.”
“Certain sector like manufacturing (eg, electronic) is usually easier to attract local workers compared to other sector. Therefore, more efforts needed to ensure the employers to continue hire local workers before they shift focus to foreign workers.”
Adapted from The Star, 24 Aug 2020