Crackdown on Illegal Foreign Workers

The start of July marked the beginning of a nationwide operation against illegal foreign workers, many of whom have gone into hiding. The construction industry is facing the brunt of the crackdown as workers feared raids at construction sites.

“This will jeopardise productivity, which will also affect the construction industry—one of the key drivers of our country’s economy,” said Master Builders Association Malaysia president Foo Chek Lee, as reported in The Star.

“Since the Government is not extending the deadline for the E-Card (Enforcement Card) registration, we urge all contractors to quickly go for the rehiring process to save themselves unnecessary legal problems.” The Master Builders Association, he adds, is working with the Construction Labour Exchange Centre Bhd to help with the rehiring process.

The E-Card, launched on Feb 15, is a temporary confirmation of employment for illegal workers and replaces valid travel documents from their countries. The card was given out to employees for free, and the deadline for application was July 1, 2017.

However, bosses found it difficult to meet the stringent conditions, while some faced difficulty registering workers who were brought in by agents, especially those that were not registered under the Construction Industry Development Board.

Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia’s Datuk Seri Tan Thian Poh urged the government to legalise all illegal foreign workers, as this would also generate additional revenue via levy payments.

Malaysia relies heavily on migrant workers for jobs in the construction and plantations sectors. It is estimated that there are some two million illegal migrant workers, as many as registered migrant workers, as noted in a Thomson Reuters Foundation report. The construction industry requires between 600,000 and 800,000 workers nationwide.

In the first three days of the crackdown, 2,309 undocumented workers have been arrested during mass raids in factories and restaurants across the country. A majority of these are from Bangladesh and Indonesia, who entered the country with tourist visas and without proper work permits. — Construction+ Online


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