Monday, July 21, 2008

Migrant workers should be responsibility of Human Resources Ministry

Which ministry should be in-charge of foreign workers? I believe that rightly, it should be the Human Resources Ministry.They should be responsible for all matters concerning workers - demand and supply.
All matters pertaining to the recruitment of foreign workers should come under the purview of the Human Resources Ministry, including the outsourcing agencies and the special approval for foreign workers, said its minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam. - Star Online, 21/7/2008 -Subra: Let my ministry handle all foreign worker matters

In fact, the time is here for us to even review the policy and practice of employing migrant workers in Malaysia.

When employers refused to increases wages - when long oppressed Malaysian workers started demanding for higher wages as cost of living and a desire for a better quality of life increased , the solution was to look elsewhere for easily "manageable" and cheap labour - hence the bringing in of migrant workers.

Other factors was that Malaysian workers were getting more choosy with regard the their workplace and the kind of work that they would like doing.

Now, there is a system of Recruting Agents in the Sending Country, and then the Agents in the Receiving Country -- and then to the Employer - which means workers (and their future employers) end up paying a lot of fees, levy, etc... and by reason of the current system, the potential for abuse of power and corruption is very high. I do not need to elaborate further as we all know that even the Malaysian DG of Immigration (and his Deputy) are now being subjected to investigations by the Anti-Corruption Agency. They were arrested, remanded and now released... but it must be serious because the government just appointed a NEW DG and Deputy for the Immigration Department.

Who should be in-charge of foreign workers? It was a fight between the Home Ministry (i.e. the Immigration Department) and the Human Resources Ministry -- and given the happenings of late, it should settle matters and rightly, the full responsibility should be handed over to the Human Resources Ministry.

In fact, we should also think about getting rid of them 'agents' and this will cut cost (and prevent unnecessary beneficiaries of what really is an employer-employee affair).

For local workers, the employer is duty bound to register their workers - and inform the necessary bodies like the KWSP, Perkeso (Social Security Organisation) and also the Income Tax Department. Maybe, likewise this obligations should also apply to migrant workers - maybe the reporting obligation may even include a few more bodies like the Immigration Department, Police, Human Resource Ministry.

With regards to entry into the country, everyone is provided the normal social visit pass -- and for someone who wants to find employment in the country, he should try within that month to get employed. If he finds employment, then the employer should register him and with that an application for a temporary work permit for 1 year at a time (maximum 5 years possibly..)

Of course for an employer, before he can employ migrant workers, he would need to satisfy the conditions imposed by the Human Resource Ministry ...

Dr Subramaniam said his ministry had created a Job Clearing System for the use of employers who required foreign workers.

“The system will ensure that employers give preference to local workers first before employing foreigners,” he said.

Now, if a migrant worker loses his job for whatever reasons, or resigns because of breach of contract or some other reasons, his visa to remain in the country shall lapse 1-month thereafter. The migrant worker shall be given 1-month for him to secure another employment and if he fails to do so, he will have to leave the country. This kind of system is used in Thailand, for example...and it seems to work.

Obligation shifts to the employer and the migrant workers -- no more on the agents, etc..

Undocumented workers can survive because some employers are employing them... and as such rather than going after migrants, the time has come that we have to go after these employers...

Every year, or so, after the government deports hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants, we hear a plea from the plantation, construction sector that they are facing a shortage of workers --- Adding two and two together, one can figure out that the culprit who has been employing undocumented workers are persons from these sectors - for if not, deportation of undocumented workers should not affect them at all..

Corruption...yes, corruption is very high -- and the word in the media is that it goes higher than the DG of Immigration....mmm how high...all the way to the Home Minister Syed Hamid...or higher to the DPM...maybe the PM...or even higher to that 'son-in-law' (allegedly occupying a higher floor than the office of the PM)...

We have over 2.2 million documented migrant workers (and possibly as high as 5 million undocumented workers), and the current persons responsible being the Home Ministry and the Immigration Department has not done a good job -- so rightfully, transfer full responsibility to the Human Resources Ministry..

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