Malaysia hit by 3D labour crisis

KATHMANDU: Malaysia is facing a strange kind of labour shortage these days, the Straits Times reported on Wednesday. The shortage is seen in mainly in ‘3D’ type jobs — dirty, dangerous and difficult — after Malaysia decided not to hire foreign workers earlier this year.

“I have not got enough labourers to work in my cleaning company,” Mohamad Sharir Abdullah was quoted as saying. He used to employ 11 workers — three Nepalese, six Bangladeshis and two local ethnic Indian women — in his company.

Malaysian companies are facing shortage of labour and also many problems when they hire local labourers. “I hate to say it but the locals are a problematic and unreliable lot,” he said adding local labourers work as and when they like and not as per the need of the company.

Meanwhile, small and medium industries too are suffering from labour shortage because they hardly hire foreign workers directly.

“I do not mind paying their levies so long as the government allows them to continue working here,” the report quoted an entrepreneur, “I am not getting the kind of dedicated and hardworking labour I need in the domestic market.”

In the wake of foreign workers’ repatriation to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign workers, there are few immediate local takers for the jobs left vacant. There are an estimated 2.2 million foreign labourers working there, of whom only 1.2 million are registered with the Immigration Department. The rest is illegal workforce.

Malaysia is a preferred destination of Nepalese migrant workers and around 300,000 Nepalese are working in unskilled jobs there. The Malaysian government has doubled the levy charge for foreign workers from May 1, 2008.

The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) recently described the government’s announcement of higher levy charges as hastening the deterioration of business operations and putting more pressure on manufacturers who are already facing operating problems.

Meanwhile, FMM president Datuk Mustafa Mansur urged the government to take into consideration the manufacturers’ hardships and defer its plan, at least until the economy recovers.