Malaysia is one of Asia's biggest employers of foreign labour. But recently, cases of deaths, abuse and forced labour have come to light. What is going on? Who is protecting these migrant workers?
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot said, according to the Manpower Department’s record, 9,465 people had been terminated from their jobs, including 820 foreign workers, from January to June this year.
“Based on the worker lay off trend for the past three years, 10,000 workers in the first six months is normal. A total 21,375 workers were retrenched in 2012, 16,716 in 2013 and 14,248 last year.
“In this regards, the Human Resources Ministry (KSM) considers the termination of employments in Malaysia in the first six months of this year as a normal trend,” he said in a statement here, Friday.
He said this in reference to a report in The Sun titled “Grim Job Market” on July 19, whereby 10,000 workers lost their jobs up to July this year.
Riot said the labour market situation currently was stable with the rate of unemployment at 3.1 per cent as of May this year.
He said the rate of participating labour force had risen from 67.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year to 67.7 per cent in the first quarter of this year.
On an average, he said 100,000 job vacancies were reported to JobsMalaysia at any one time from January to June this year, and 121,882 workers found jobs via programmes under JobsMalaysia.
“But the government, particularly KSM, always take proactive measures to find jobs for the terminated workers and provide them with suitable training,” he said.
Riot said KSM, via Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Berhad (PSMB), provided numerous training schemes for workers to be laid off in the private sector.
He said the implementation of the schemes enabled the group of workers to sit for free retraining to obtain new skills and jobs.
“KSM will also ensure those workers who are laid off received appropriate compensations under the Employment Act 1955 or agreements between the employers and workers,” he said.
To tackle the issue of retrenchment of workers in the long term, specifically if there was an economic downturn, Riot said the government was formulating an Employment Insurance Scheme to protect those workers whose employment was terminated by employers.
“Among the benefits proposed under the system are job seeking allowance, emplacement in a new job, training allowance and payment of training costs for a maximum period of six months,” he said.
Riot said the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) estimated that the unemployment rate would be at 2.9 per cent this year and dropping to 2.8 per cent by 2020.
Based on the growth of 5.8 per cent in the Gross Domestic Output during 11MP, it is estimated that the average manpower growth rate is 2.1 per cent a year which will create about 1.5 million new employment opportunities by 2020.
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