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Malaysia, Indonesia to review foreign workers agreement

PUTRAJAYA: Both Malaysia and Indonesia will undertake a review of the memorandum of agreement signed 11 years ago on the terms and service of foreign workers.

Human Resources Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said a joint committee would be set up between the two countries in order to look into some of the provisions and make these more in line with current practices and labour costs. “The basic principle behind the MOU on foreign workers with Indonesia will remain but we may have to look into matters such as fee structure for agents, which has more than doubled in sum since the signing.

“Due to the current labour situation, some of the existing provisions have become unclear. If possible, we may have to amend these,” he told reporters after a 45-minute meeting with Indonesian Manpower Minister Erman Suparno at his office on Friday.

There are presently some 2.2mil foreign workers in the country, out of which about 1.2mil are from Indonesia.

Subramaniam said he also explained to the minister about the ministry’s plan to come out with a guideline on employers keeping their foreign workers’ passports, a proposed amendment to the Employment Act to provide protection to domestic maids as well as complaints of abuses by unscrupulous bosses.

On the guideline on passports, he said this was now in the last stages of preparation and would make employers more responsible towards their foreign workers.

“For instance, they will have to sign an agreement with their workers on holding the passports and they must also ensure that any renewal to their workers’ visas, permits or even passports be done promptly,” he said.

Subramaniam said he hoped to table the proposal to amend the Employment Act, which would include domestic maids in the list of workers eligible for compensation, during this Parliament’s meeting.

“I also gave my guarantee to the minister that Indonesian workers are free to lodge complaints with our Manpower Department if they feel they have been abused or cheated,” he said.

On the social problems posed by Indonesian workers, Subramaniam said both he and the minister agreed on better cooperation with each other and with other agencies to curb these.

“Most of the problems are created by illegal workers,” he said.

The Star