FMM: Please ensure ready jobs for the 1.5 mil more Bangladeshi workers

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 12): The umbrella body of local manufacturers, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), wants the government to ensure there are ready jobs for the additional 1.5 million workers from Bangladesh that Putrajaya plans to bring in over the next three years.

This is because manufacturers do not want the entry of such a large number of Bangladeshi workers to add to the problem of illegal foreign workers in the country, it said in a statement today.

It also urged the government to first clear the issue of existing illegal foreign workers here, before bringing in these new workers.

While FMM shared that manufacturers have not specifically requested for Bangladeshi workers, the association viewed the addition of the new source country as welcoming news, "given the many challenges employers are facing in the hiring of foreign workers from some of the existing source countries, such as Nepal, Myanmar and Indonesia."

"More importantly, manufacturers want the assurance that the recruitment process of these workers would be transparent and efficient, without the involvement or appointment of any agents or outsourcing company to bring them in," it said.

“In the past, workers have been brought in by the approved outsourcing companies without secured jobs, which led to many ending up as illegals. Manufacturers do not want to fall victim to hiring workers who were firstly not intended to work in the manufacturing sector, and secondly not possessing the appropriate skills to work in manufacturing,” it added.

On Monday, the Bangladesh Cabinet approved of a draft deal that will allow private firms there to send workers to Malaysia, through a government-to-government (G-to-G) arrangement.

Trade organisations have slammed the move, going so far as to say that profiteering may be the deal’s underlying motive. They also said the government should focus on legalising illegal workers, claiming there could be as many as 2.3 million of them.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Shamsuddin Bardan had said MEF had not seen any evidence or survey that showed Malaysian companies needed as many as 1.5 million new Bangladeshi workers.

However, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi defended the move yesterday and dismissed claims that the government was trying to raise funds through exorbitant levies on the workers.

“They have to know that the recruitment is based on market demand. They are not being brought into the country on a whim,” he told reporters, after chairing a Cabinet committee meeting in Putrajaya.
Meanwhile, FMM urged the government to immediately convene a meeting with employer associations and share the details of the G-to-G arrangement, especially on the cost of hiring the workers.

“We understand [that] the deal between the two governments involves an expatriation/mobilisation cost of a maximum RM1,985 per worker to be borne by employers,” the statement read.

“It is unclear as to what the expatriation cost covers. FMM has always maintained that any increase in cost must be undertaken with prior consultation with employers who would have to bear the immediate cost burden,” it added.
FMM reiterated that employers should be involved in the direct recruitment of the workers and allowed the right to select or interview the workers prior to employment.