21/1/2013, New Straits Times
'Minimum wage will reduce foreign force'
JOHOR BARU: The implementation of minimum wages will ultimately reduce Malaysia's dependence on foreign workers in certain sectors which can be filled by local workers.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the phasing out of foreign workers was part of the transformation process for local workers.
"We want to reduce our dependence on foreign workers and the implementation of the minimum wage policy will make employers think of an alternative way to continue their business."
Dr Subramaniam said this included restructuring operations by relying on semi-automation or full automation to reduce dependence on unskilled labour.
It was reported that most petrol dealers have implemented the minimum wage as of Jan 1, throwing some 50,000 foreigners out of work.
Dr Subramaniam said there were no provisions in the law to allow companies to delay implementing the minimum wage policy.
The minimum wage policy requires companies to pay a minimum wage of RM900 in the peninsula and RM800 in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.
Dr Subramaniam said the ministry was discussing with employers issues relating to levy and allowances for housing and transportation of foreign workers.
"Employers want the levy and allowances to be borne by the workers. The cabinet will have to decide."
On the hiring of foreign maids, Dr Subramaniam said the ministry welcomed suggestions from all parties, including non-governmental organisations, for a better recruitment system acceptable to all.