|CRITICAL SHORTAGE FACED BY THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR ON FOREIGN WORKERS|
There has been media reports that Yang Berbahagia Dato’ Sri Mahmood bin Adam, Secretary-General of Ministry of Internal Affairs has mentioned the Government is considering to extend work permits for foreign workers for 5 years for other sectors in addition to Plantation Sector. Yang Amat Berhormat Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Muhyiddin bin Mohd Yassin, Deputy Prime Minister is scheduled to chair a meeting of the Special Task Force on foreign workers on 17th March 2011 to discuss the matter.
The massive roll-out of projects under the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) and Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) will require numerous skilled workers, both local and foreign to ensure its successful completion, considering the complexity and fast-track nature of the projects. Presently, there are a lot of aged local construction workers (see appendix 1) and 35.1% will most likely retire by 2017. In view of the need for enough manpower resources to undertake the job, MBAM hopes the Government will consider relaxing its policies involving construction workers. MBAM hopes that the work permits of foreign construction workers can be extended for another 5 years immediately and any skills test charges should be made affordable for the construction industry.
Another premium issue which the Government should consider is to lower the proposed medical insurance which will cost RM120.00/worker even though it is supposed to be borne by the foreign worker. Employers will be required to enclose a copy of the medical insurance policy for the workers when applying for a new work permit or renewing work permits. The amount will definitely be a burden to foreign construction workers and may deter them from deciding to come to Malaysia to work in our construction industry.
MBAM also hopes the Construction Labour Exchange Centre Berhad (CLAB) will quickly implement their proposal regarding creating transit centers to house foreign workers. This will be a positive move as these properly managed and strategically located centers can help provide accommodation and amenities for foreign construction workers and prevent potential abuse by unscrupulous employers. They will also contribute towards the control of diseases and the reduction of crimes. More importantly MBAM would like CLAB to study the impact of labour movement on the Malaysian construction industry when the economic integration of ASEAN countries comes into effect by 2015.
In conclusion, the future of the construction industry is aligned with the well-being and progress of the country and this should guide us all in moving forward. Although there is a need to limit the number of foreign workers, a proper balance where there is a gradual limitation of foreign workers in this country must be juxtaposed with the need to preserve the number of skilled construction workers so that they can still continue to contribute towards the economy. In this respect, MBAM appeals to the Government to consider the above suggestions to help alleviate the present difficulty faced by contractors pertaining to lack of skilled construction workers before it seriously affecting the productivity of the construction industry.
Click here to download the Appendix 1: Ageing of Construction Workers.
Kwan Foh Kwai JMN
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