Malaysian firms have been hard hit by a huge labour shortage as the country couldn't recruit foreign workers, especially from Bangladesh and Indonesia, in a speedy process as per the demand of employers.
Malaysian companies from palm oil plantations to semiconductor makers are refusing orders and forgoing billions in sales, hampered by a shortage of more than a million workers that threatens the country's economic recovery, reports Reuters.
But, if worker recruitment from Bangladesh could start this month as per the declaration after a joint working group meeting (JWG) earlier this month, it would be an immediate relief for Malaysian employers, stakeholders have said.
The authorities announced a resumption of sending workers to Malaysia this month, as issues relevant to the matter were finally resolved in the JWG meeting on 2 June, five months after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard.
Expatriates' Welfare Minister Imran Ahmed on Saturday said his ministry will issue a detailed guideline, including the cost of migration, soon. If all goes well, it is possible to send workers to Malaysia within this month, he added.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) has asked people looking to work as migrant workers in Malaysia to register themselves with the bureau.
The registration can be done at the District Employment and Manpower Offices (DEMO) or selected Technical Training Centres (TTC) or using the Ami Probashi app, said a notification issued by the BMET on Sunday.
"Getting registered with the BMET is the first step to migration to Malaysia. Bangladeshi recruiting agencies will choose workers from among the registered ones after they receive demand letters from recruiters in Malaysia," Md Shahidul Alam, director-general of BMET told TBS.
No matter when the workers are hired, getting registered with the BMET will save them from falling prey to brokers, he added.
Malaysia lacks at least 1.2m workers
Malaysia lifted the Covid-19 freeze on recruiting foreign workers in February, but the country has not yet seen a significant return of migrant workers because of slow government approvals and protracted negotiations with source countries over worker protections, stakeholders told Reuters.
Manufacturers, who make up nearly one-fourth of the economy, fear losing customers to other countries as growth picks up.
Malaysia lacks at least 1.2 million workers across manufacturing, plantation and construction, a shortage worsening daily as demand grows with an easing of the pandemic, industry and government data show.
Manufacturers say they are short 600,000 workers, construction needs 550,000, the palm oil industry reports a shortage of 120,000 workers, chipmakers lack 15,000 and cannot meet demand despite a global chip shortage, and medical glove makers say they require 12,000 workers.
Blame is on the Malaysian authorities
Had the Malaysian authorities not dilly-dallied on the recruitment process, they would not have to face the current crisis, said Abul Bashar, former president Baira.
"After the signing of the MoU, the Malaysian authorities sent a proposal to hire workers through a syndicate of 25 recruitment agencies in Bangladesh. But, Bangladesh did not agree to the proposal, delaying the recruitment process."
Meanwhile, Charles Santiago, member of the Parliament of Malaysia for the Klang constituency, has urged the country's Human Resource Minister of Malaysia Datuk Seri M Saravanan to explain the reasons for choosing a specific number of agencies and how it would help solve the issue of migrant worker exploitation, reports Malay Mail.
The MP said, "They [Bangladeshi recruitment agencies] are saying that these 25 agencies selected are controlled by this one guy called Amin. It is up to the minister to clarify how these 25 agencies will solve the problem. This issue has been dilly-dallied long enough, and it's being done at the expense of the people and the country."
To date, the Human Resources Ministry and Saravanan have yet to release the names of the selected 25 agencies.
Two lakh Bangladeshi workers will go to Malaysia each year. Their minimum monthly salary will be 1,500 Malaysian Ringgit and the migration cost will be less than Tk1.6 lakh, according to the Bangladesh expat ministry.
Meanwhile, aspirant migrants who want to register with the BMET must be in the age group of 18-45 years. The registration fee is Tk200 per person.
Interested workers can register using the Ami Probashi app as well paying Tk100 in extra service charge.