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Rights group hails proposal for open recruitment of foreign workers

FMM In The News: FREE MALAYSIA TODAY, PETALING JAYA, Tuesday, February 22, 2022 - A human rights group for foreign workers has welcomed the call for an open market policy in the recruitment of workers to Malaysia, saying it is a “good practice to avoid monopolisation”.

Malaysia International Humanitarian Organisation (MHO) secretary-general Hishamuddin Hashim said an open market policy could promote transparent recruitment and prevent syndicates controlled “by a certain group of people with special privileges” from recruiting foreign labour.

He said that under the current recruitment practices, the migration costs for workers and other recruitment-related costs were stated to be borne by the workers.

This could result in debt bondage and systematic forced labour.

Hishammuddin was commenting on a call by the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) for an open market policy for recruiting workers in the country, saying all recruitment agencies with a valid licence should be allowed to process prospective workers.

Its spokesman, Shameem Noman, said an open market policy would bring down recruitment costs and reduce the financial burden on workers.

Hishamuddin said a special select committee should oversee the recruitment system.

“This open market policy should come with an independent and transparent application process for recruitment agencies. The selection process should be done fairly.

“A special select committee should be appointed to oversee the whole process and review their performance.”

However, he said the intake of foreign workers should be in line with market demand after prioritising local workers.

“This is because there are an estimated 500,000 unemployed local workers presently. Limiting the number of recruitment agencies would not solve the problems of over-recruitment of foreign workers in Malaysia,” he said.

North-South Initiative executive director Adrian Pereira said monopolies on foreign workers occurred because there was no oversight and the recruitment criteria were not made public.

“However, if it was an open market, there would be competition to ensure that recruitment is done fairly and according to International Labour Organization’s (ILO) guidelines,” he told FMT.

The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) also backed the idea, saying an open market would provide greater competition and give both employers and workers more choices and instil confidence in a well-governed and regulated system.

“FMM supports an open, fair, transparent and credible system of recruitment of workers as we do not want employers and employees alike to be victims of the system,” its president, Soh Thian Lai, said.

“Ultimately, the recruitment system should not impose an unnecessary cost burden on employers and employees. More importantly, it must follow global best practices that would protect workers and their rights as well as be fair on the conditions that are imposed on employers.”


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