Workers are without a doubt the backbone of the economy. While machines and robots may alleviate certain basic tasks in labour, humans will still have the expertise and skills to operate most machinery.
However, shortage of foreign labours in Malaysia in recent years have severely hampered the productivity of the manufacturing sector, especially in furniture production.
“We wanted to hire Malaysian workers, but they lack the sense of responsibility, frequently apply for leave or absent to work, and unwilling to work overtime,” said Mr. Wong who’s been in the industry for 25 years.
Mr. Wong then added:
“Foreign labours strive to earn money. They are hardworking and willing to work overtime.”
However, due to the shortage of foreign labours, a furniture manufacturing factory in Muar, Johor is on the verge of closing down or shifting to another location.
According to the people who run the factory, they have been waiting for foreign labours to arrive in Malaysia since last year, and they have grown tired of waiting.
As a result, they were forced to either pull the plug or shift to another location.
Muar is the biggest furniture manufacturing town in Malaysia, with over 600 furniture factories operating at various scales, reported Sin Chew.
A furniture maker also said that contrary to what a certain minister has claimed, the real reason why manufacturers prefer foreign labours is because local workers lack the sense of responsibility compared to foreign workers. He also state that the minister do not understand the predicament faced by the industry at all.
Generally, the foreign workers in the industry are from Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Nepalese workers usually refuse to extend their contract after 3 years while Bangladeshi workers would choose to stay longer. However, since Malaysian government has stopped bringing in foreign labours, the industry is losing workers faster than they could hire.
This situation has bogged down productivity and they couldn’t deliver on time to international orders, which will in turn tarnish the reputation of the Malaysian furniture industry. If the problem persist, foreign investors would exit Malaysia in search for better location with adequate supply of workers.
This means more current local and foreign workers will lose their source of income.
He also pointed out that Malaysia has become a training ground for foreign labours. When they are skilful enough in the production line, they would venture out to look for factories that offer better pays and perks. Players in the furniture-making industry urged the government to take action instead of watching them bleeding out.
Since the industry is in dire need of workers, why don’t Malaysians especially fresh grads be proactive and fill in the vacancy? Malaysians especially youths should take up the challenge and prove to the world that we are hard-working, and be worthy of the hammer (of responsibility and perseverance).
But don’t expect your starting salary to be RM6,500 lah!
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