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TEMPORARY FREEZE ON FOREIGN WORKERS

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 15 (Bernama) - The Human Resources Ministry is considering a temporary freeze on the recruitment of foreign workers, Director-General of Labour, Datuk Ismail Abdul Rahim disclosed today.
He told Bernama that this was one of the options the ministry was actively studying to assist locals who were being displaced from work to be employed.
As of last month, a total of 28,000 jobless Malaysians had registered with the Labour Department and so far the department had managed to find jobs for 6,000 of them.
At present there are some 2.1 million foreign workers in Malaysia which translates to about 20 per cent of the total workforce.
It was reported recently that there were 2,000 to 3,000 jobless Malaysians every month registered with the ministry. The figures are expected to be increase in the coming months with the growing world recession which would impact Malaysia next year.
In an immediate reaction, both the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) which represents 550,000 private sector workers, and the Congress of Employees in the Public and Civil Service (Cuepacs) which is an umbrella union for the 1.2 million government sector workers, welcomed the freeze as a "logical move to protect local workers".
MTUC's vice-president A. Balasubramaniam said there was now a surplus of foreign workers in the country and it was time to reduce them to provide Malaysians who were displaced from the jobs to be employed.He suggested that migrant workers who have completed their contracts, should be sent home to make way for Malaysians to take their places.
Cuepacs secretary-general, Ahmad Shah Mohd Zin said although the civil service was not affected by the foreign workers influx, nevertheless it was a worrying trend as it not only deprived Malaysians of jobs, but also caused social problems.
"We notice that there is an increase in crime in our country and this can be attributed to foreigners and jobless Malaysians," he said.
Ismail said Singapore had indicated that it would retrench about 500,000 workers and some of them would be Malaysians.
As a proactive measure, the Labour Department had opened up registration for these workers and they were advised to register with the nearest Labour office.
Alternatively, they can also register online on the dedicated job finder JobMalaysia portal run by the department.
Employers who have vacancies were also encouraged to use this portal to advertise the jobs.
Ismail said the Human Resources Ministry was prepared to meet any eventuality and would be able to lessen the impact of job losses through its various job placement and training programmes.He hoped all stakeholders - workers, employers and government would work together to lessen if not eliminate the impact of job losses in the country in view of the world economic meltdown.
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