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Flow of workers within Asean: MTUC wants matter to be handled at govt level

The Straits Times, 28 December 2000

KUALA LUMPUR - The migration of workers within the Asean countries should be carried out on a government-to-government basis and not through employment agencies to avoid exploitation, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has said.

MTUC president, Senator Zainal Rampak, said a joint declaration on the matter was made by Asean Trade Union Council leaders at a conference held recently.

He said employment agencies had been reaping profits and imposing high charges on the workers, but left them unemployed.

I am confident that should the procedure on the migration of workers be conducted on a government-to-government basis, illegal migration can be curtailed, he added.

He also lauded the Immigration Department's move to deport 100,000 illegal immigrants at a cost of RM6 million (S$2.6 million). However, he said that instead of using taxpayers' funds, it would be better for such money to be used to benefit the people in terms of health and welfare assistance.

Mr Zainal said the move would not restrict the inflow of illegal immigrants if there was no co-operation from all government departments involved in checking their entry.

MTUC estimates that there are about two million illegal immigrants in the country at the present moment.

Meanwhile, Mr Zainal also reminded employers not to repeat what had happened during the economic downturn two years ago. At that time, many companies had closed down during the festive holidays.

The excuse given by employers was that business had suffered, there was no demand, so that the old workers could be dismissed and new ones employed on lower salaries, he said.

He added that it was important for harmonious industrial relations to be maintained.