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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Foreign workers issue correctly addressed


The Immigration Department’s announcement that it would freeze the bank assets and accounts of employers hiring illegal workers has drawn a lot of reaction from employers.
The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) and the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM), have protested the action, stating that it would cause inconvenience to businesses.
This should be examined rationally. The fact of the matter is that the employers hiring illegal foreign workers are simply doing something illegal - and knowingly so. To protest against that, and to play the victim, show just how employer organisations in the country respect the law.
What needs to be addressed first is how to deal with the large number of illegal workers in the country. This is a policy decision, in which the government should consult the public. The public does not mean employers alone.
Firstly, Illegal workers are denied basic human and labour rights, simply because they are illegal and cannot bring any sort of complaint to the relevant authorities.
Secondly, Illegal workers have been used to depress wage levels in the country. Malaysian workers have been suffering the direct and indirect consequences of illegal workers in various different forms for a few decades now. The complaints of unions and other non-governmental organisations have fallen on deaf ears.
If a worker were to engage in something illegal, would the employers expect the government to ignore such an illegal act?
The clamour by the employer organisations in this regard is inappropriate and against the interest of the country and the rakyat.
The government should be supported on this matter as it is finally taking the correct step to address a long-standing issue.

J SOLOMON is general-secretary, National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE). -Mkini

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