Tuesday November 20, 2007

IDR not exempted from foreign workers ratio


JOHOR BARU: The Iskandar Development Region (IDR) will not be exempted from the foreign workers ratio, said Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Bakar.

He said businesses nationwide, including those in IDR, must control their intake of foreign workers and give priority to local workers.

"IDR is expected to need about 100,000 workers but the ideal number of foreign workers should not exceed 15%.

"We want to curb the trend of most employers who tend to forsake local workers for foreigners," he said after attending an IDR briefing in Tanjung Pelapas Port (PTP) here on Tuesday.

On March 23, it was announced that among the incentives for IDR were MSC-status companies were not required to have a racial quota, foreign investors can have 100% ownership, 100% foreign workers and a free trade zone concept.

He said only critical sectors such as construction and plantations were allowed to take more foreign workers.

Abdul Rahman said since Nov 1, a total of 235 offences committed by 137 companies have been detected after inspections of more than 100,000 companies nationwide.

"80% of the companies which committed offences were SMEs and SMIs (small and medium enterprises and industries).

"They were found flouting the law," he said, adding that among the offences were failure to insure foreign workers and late payment of wages.

Abdul Rahman also said that the new Foreign Workers Act was expected to be tabled in Parliament before Dec 18 this year.

"The new Act would offer stiffer penalties for employers who broke the law or mistreated foreign workers.

"It is also supposed to help decrease the number of foreign workers in the country," he said adding that the welfare of foreign workers would also be addressed in the new Act.

Abdul Rahman said a special settlement for foreign workers in IDR was needed in order to monitor and ensure their welfare.

"The settlement ensures that foreign workers are properly treated and their welfare is taken care of.

"It will also enable the authorities to monitor them," he said.

Among the 366,023 workers in Johor, 101,045 are foreigners.

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