Friday, January 22, 2010

CNY Crackdown: Maybe restaurants should 'register' their migrant workers - rather that Government making threats...and 'problems'

What I have observed is that, most of the Restaurants and Gerai Makanan (Food Stalls) employ migrant workers as their workers. The employers, majority Chinese and Malay, are really small businessmen with just that one shop/restaurant/kedai kopi.

The reality today is that locals prefer not to work in these restaurants/food stalls, and if they do work, their preferences are the KFC, Pissa Hut, Old Town White Coffee, MacDonalds, etc not the normal usual Malay, Chinese, Indian restaurants. The 'long odd hours' and the non-air-conditioned working environment is really not that attractive.

And when you work in a restaurant, food stall and kantin, you normally will be expected to do all the work - i.e. from waiting tables, serving, collecting payments, washing up the dishes, cleaning the tables, etc - In the slightly bigger busier establishment, the only kinds of work is usually cooks and the general restaurant worker.

The Indian restaurants have managed to bring in Indian migrant workers - and these are usually all 'general workers' with maybe limited cooking skills. But for the Chinese establishments, they many a time rely on workers from Burma and Indonesia [and many of these are undocumented, or in the case of the Indonesian women they really would be 'domestic workers'.

For the Chinese restaurants/shops, previously it was always a 'family business' - and those who worked were the parents, children, uncles, etc... but times are changing and today many of these small Chinese businesses find that the younger generation is not interested in working in the shops anymore - hence necessity has driven many to have to employ migrants. On the other hand,. with regard to the Malay shops - some of the younger generation have stayed closer to home and is still willing to help - but numbers of younger family members are shrinking fast.

As we know, our government has been more interested in fulfilling the demands of the 'bigger' companies - the plantations, the factories, etc... and not the needs of the smaller people in Malaysia save for 'domestic workers'.

Now, Chinese restaurants are in a worst off position because of the 'halal' factor  - hence not being able to attract the Malay workers.

Local Malaysians prefer working in supermarkets, bookshops, stationery shops, doctor's clinics, etc etc - not really restaurants/coffee shops.

This crackdown this coming Chinese New Year will certainly affect almost all Chinese Restaurants, and some Malay (and Indian) food shops. Even those, who have Indian migrant workers will have difficulty because certainly the waitering function is still being carried out by these migrants. 

Reality is that in most food places, even if there is a local person/worker, he/she would be the one handling the cash register, or maybe doing the cooking. With regard to all other work, it is being done by migrant workers - and most of this is the undocumented worker.

The solution is for the UMNO-led BN government to change its law and policy and allow employers to EASILY register their migrant workers with the Labour Department. Upon registration, the Employer will be required to immediately pay the required payment to ensure that the worker is covered by the Workmen's Compensation Act, and the immigration department shall forthwith issue a work permit/pass. The employer shall be required to pay the necessary levy for employing migrant workers (or the government can waive the levy).

This is certainly a better solution than arresting, detaining, whipping  and deporting migrant workers - which would leave a massive worker shortage causing a lot of shops to 'shut down'.

This is certainly a better solution that arresting these employers, charging, convicting, whipping, fining/jailing them under the law.

These are the smaller people of Malaysia - and it is time that the UMNO-led BN government shows that it cares for the smaller person and businesses. We all know that they care and do a lot for the bigger corporate companies.

If a method does not work...we look at other methods of resolving the problems.....but alas, the UMNO led BN government of Malaysia just never learn....for the past so many years they have been arresting, detaining and deporting migrants ...and spending a lot of money. Time to reconsider.

Let them all come into Malaysia legally - and allow them to look for jobs within a period of 30 - 60 days, and if they do find a job, it is the duty of the employer to inform the Labour Department and the relevant agencies to do the needful.

For the local workers, all who are unemployed shall register with the Labour Department indicating what kind of job they are looking for, willing to do... This will be the register that the Labour Department will check to determine whether there are available local unemployed workers. If so, then local employers will be asked to meet these workers first and offer them a job, or something like that. Maybe, where there many local unemployed willing to work in restaurants, then some kind of quota sysytem could be put in place. {In the Music Industry some time back, the Hotels and Bars were allowed to bring in 'foreign bands' but a condition was that they also had to employ a loacl band, who will be allowed to perform more or less equal hours...}. Maybe, something like this should be considered.

Foreign workers who work as waiters or receptionists are violating the Immigration Act, said Immigration director-general Abdul Rahman Othman.

“There is no provision for foreigners to work as waiters or receptionists, and this is a breach of the conditions stipulated in the Act,” he told Malaysiakini in telephone interview.

Currently, hundreds of thousands foreigners are employed as waiters.

Abdul Rahman added that foreigners are banned from working in the frontline of the services sector.

NONEThousands of printed circulars explaining the Immigration Act both in English and Bahasa Malaysia are being distributed in restaurants and other public areas. It is also posted at all immigration offices nationwide.

“We are doing this as part of our education campaign to inform the public that no foreigner can work in the frontline (of the services sector). Any employer who employs a foreign staff as waiter is breaching the Act.”

Abdul Rahman said the fliers were also to alert and educate employers to take action against any foreign worker working as a waiter.

He said the Immigration Department would begin a nationwide crackdown in cooperation with the police and Rela from Feb 15 on thousands of employers believed to be harbouring or employing illegal workers.

Most restaurants affected

Currently, there are about 1.8 million approved foreign workers in the country, and the department believes there are at least an equal number of illegal ones.

“We are meeting employers, employer associations and groups before the deadline to highlight to them the immigration laws and policies for hiring foreign workers.

“From Jan 5, we have been having dialogues with associations such as the Malaysian Employers' Federation and the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers,” Abdul Rahman said.

The flier also spells out the various offences under the Immigration Act 1965.

When restaurant associations were contacted, officials who declined to give their names said that most restaurants would be seriously affected by the crackdown.

Many will have to close from next month because the majority of their waiters are foreign workers. Various restaurant associations indicated it also will be a damper on the tourism industry. - Malaysiakini, 19/1/2010,
Foreign workers cannot be hired as waiters

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