THE Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) today called on the government to be cautious when allowing another 70,000 Pakistani workers into the country.
Its vice-president, A. Balasubramaniam, said the move would be counter- productive as the country was trying to reduce its dependence on foreign workers.
He was commenting on a statement by Pakistan High Commissioner to Malaysia Lt Gen(Rtd) Tahir Mahmud Qazi that the Pakistani workforce in the country would increase three-fold by December next year.
At present there are 30,000 Pakistani workers, mainly in the construction and services sectors, in Malaysia.
Balasubramaniam said that according to an MTUC survey there were some 10,000 jobless foreign workers with valid passes in the country now and they should be given top priority to be employed.
These workers were brought in by labour-sourcing companies but were unable to find jobs, he said.
"Most of these workers had mortgaged their houses and land to pay for the agents'' and visa fees to come and work here and it would be appropriate that they be given priority if there are vacancies," he added.
According to the Human Resources Ministry, the number of foreign workers in Malaysia now is around 2.1 million documented workers and another 1.2 million illegals.
Most of these workers are unskilled or semi-skilled.
Balasubramaniam said the government should also "strictly implement its policy of Malaysians first in all sectors of the economy."
Under this policy, first priority was given to Malaysians to fill any vacancies, and only after that could foreigners be considered, he said.
He said the MTUC would bring up the issue of foreign workers when it meets the Director-General of Immigration sometime next week.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) also urged the government to carefully monitor the situation before allowing new foreign workers into the country.
"Local companies are already putting in various measures to reduce the foreign workforce and attract locals and this new wave of foreigners would put a damper on their efforts," its executive director, Shamsuddin Bardan, said. - NST