KATHMANDU, Jan 24: Malaysians have exerted pressure on their government to maintain uniformity in remuneration between foreigners, including Nepalis, and local workers, heightening the possibility of migrant workers being stripped of additional allowances.
Though the recent hike in remuneration by the Malaysian government for blue-collar workers ensures a monthly remuneration of 900 ringgit, foreign workers are entitled to additional 200 ringgit as food and transportation allowance.
Local workers are not happy even after over 60 percent hike in their salaries and have demanded allowances on par with migrant workers.
"Remuneration of foreign workers might go down by 200 ringgit if the Malaysian government bows the demands of local workers," Kumud Khanal, vice president of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) told Republica on Wednesday.
Khanal said it is not possible for the Malaysian government to provide allowance to local workers on par with migrant workers. In a bid to attract more migrant workers, Malaysian government has increased the basic salary of local and foreign blue collar workers to 900 ringgit effective from January 1, 2013, from the previous 546 ringgit fixed earlier.
Malaysian workers earning more than 1,500 ringgit per month have to pay a levy of 100 ringgit to the government. However, the employers themselves have to pay the monthly levy on behalf of the foreign workers.
Khanal said local workers had recently approached the Malaysian Prime Minister to express their concerns. As per the provision in the Malaysia´s Minimum Wage Order 2012, local firms hiring less than five workers can have a grace period up to July 1 to implement the decision.
Khanal also said that local employers, on the other hand, have started to lay off workers to bring down their expenditure.
"Some of the Malaysian employers who were preparing to place demands for Nepali workers are holding back applications to reduce the workforce," Khanal, who has been sending Nepali workers to Malaysia, said. Around 400,000 Nepalis are currently working in Malaysia, the most popular destination of Nepali migrant workers.
As per the existing provision, local employers have to get approval from the labor office before demanding foreign workers.
Malaysian employers prefer hiring foreign workers as the local workers constantly change jobs. Malaysia has been hiring workers from Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Cambodia in the manufacturing, service, plantation and construction sectors.