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Bosses, migrant workers back Harris' proposal
Published on: Saturday, August 04, 2018
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Kota Kinabalu: Employers and migrant workers backed the call by former Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh for the Government to abolish all agents dealing with foreign workers.They said it is logical to allow employers and foreign workers to deal direct with the Immigration Department when applying for the necessary sponsorships like work permits and other legal documents as stipulated under the law.

They said the present system requiring them (employers) to engage the services of legitimate recruitment agents when hiring foreign workers only created inconveniences, especially in financial aspect.

Harris had said the reason for the influx of illegal workers in Sabah is because there are greedy agents who have been making a lot of money from foreign workers.

"It's (their service) too expensive. The agents are the culprits who have caused an influx of foreign workers in the market," Harris said, adding that they (agents) want to make more money regardless of our market requirements.

Employers and companies heavily dependent on foreign workers are also requesting the State Government to seriously consider lowering the present levy for migrant workers so as not to badly affect their business operations and Sabah's economy.

The levy for foreign workers in the manufacturing and construction sectors are RM1,010, service sector (RM1,410), plantation (RM590), agriculture (RM410) and domestic maids ranging from RM410 to RM590.

They claimed reductions of the levy and abolishing the dealings with agents would in many ways help address their financial burden and encourage them to legalise workers.

On their part, affected Filipinos said the high service fee imposed by foreign recruitment agents discouraged their potential employers from legally hiring them.

"Even renewal of work permit is too expensive...we do not want to work and stay in Sabah without the proper documents. But unfortunately, we have no other alternatives except to take the risk of being arrested," they said.

Meanwhile, the Sabah Foreign Workers Recruitment Agency Association (Pappas), when contacted, said an emergency meeting will be called to discuss the issue.

Its President Anthony Leong said most of its members have been doing business for 20 years and close to 1,000 employees risk losing their source of livelihood in the event their services are abolished.

He refuted a claim that the association charges exorbitantly for new and renewal applications.

He said the association's charges range from RM500 to RM1,000 per head for recruitment of a new worker and RM50 to RM200 per head for renewal of a work permit.

Registered in 2005, the association currently has 53 members who are legal recruitment agencies under the Private Employment Agencies Act 1981 (Act 246).

Pappas takes up 85 per cent of the foreign worker hiring service in the State and the remaining done by employers themselves or other non-registered agents.

The association claimed that they have built a good working relationship with the relevant government departments and agencies over the years, which helps to ensure top quality service, apart from having a system that works well. - Nikko Fabian



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