Home, HR ministries to have special meeting on foreign labour issues, propose freezing quota applications

KUALA LUMPUR: A special meeting between the Home and Human Resources ministries will take place on Jan 16 to specifically address foreign worker issues and propose freezing foreign worker quota applications to the cabinet.

In a joint statement, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution and Human Resources Minister Steven Sim said these actions were taken to ensure employers fulfil their responsibilities towards their foreign workers.

"The Home Ministry and the Human Resources Ministry takes this matter seriously and will not compromise with any party involved in exploiting foreign workers, leading to forced labour and human trafficking," they said.

The two ministries have outlined seven actions, including legal measures under the Immigration Act 1959/63, Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007, Employment Act 1955, and the Minimum Standards of Housing, Accommodation and Employee Facilities Act 1990.

The Minimum Standards of Housing, Accommodation and Employee Facilities Act 1990 provides general penalties. If convicted, the perpetrator could face fines of up to RM50,000 for each offence due to neglecting employee salary payments and not providing suitable living conditions.

Furthermore, employers will be blacklisted from making new foreign worker employment applications under Section 60K of the Labor Act 1955.

This includes any dealings with the Immigration Department, including the renewal of temporary working visit passes for existing workers.

Additionally, their remaining quotas for foreign workers will be cancelled.

The ministers said the Conditional Approval Letters issued to the employers to bring in foreign workers would also be revoked, and the levy payment will be returned.

They also announced plans for inspections on employers who have employed foreign workers through the Foreign Worker Employment Relaxation Plan.

The ministries made these decisions after summoning the involved employers for a session attended by the National Security Council, the Johor State National Security Council, the Immigration Department, the Social Security Organisation and the Construction Industry Development Board on Dec 28.

"The Home Ministry and the Human Resources Ministry met on Wednesday to find solutions to cases of neglect and exploitation of foreign workers, aiming to enhance the management of foreign workers comprehensively.

"The ministers have also planned several short- and long-term actions, including improving existing acts and policies to strengthen the management of foreign workers while focusing on workers' rights and welfare," they said.

On Dec 20, 171 Bangladeshis walked to a police station to try to lodge a report against their agent, who allegedly failed to provide them with jobs after three to six months, in Kota Tinggi, Johor.

The men were detained that day and handed over to the Immigration Department for overstaying, but they had entered the country with valid documents.

The company responsible for bringing them in has been blacklisted, with its remaining quotas revoked and will face legal actions under relevant laws.

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