Malaysian Furniture Council stages peaceful protest to demand foreign workers

Malaysian Furniture Council (MFC) president Chua Chun Chai said 373 furniture manufacturers nationwide are in need of 27,635 foreign workers with locals showing no interest to work in the industry. — Sunpix by Low Sock Ken.
Furniture industry players asks for refreezing foreigner policy to solve their plight. — Sunpix by Low Sock Ken.

MUAR: Malaysian Furniture Industry players today held a peaceful gathering at the Muar Furniture Association building to voice the manpower shortage, that has hit the industry badly.

Malaysian Furniture Council (MFC) president Chua Chun Chai said 373 furniture manufacturers nationwide are in need of 27,635 foreign workers with locals showing no interest to work in the industry.

"We appeal to the government to review its decision to freeze foreign labour," he said, adding that Malaysia ranked in the top 10 in furniture production in the world, after Vietnam.

He said the government's decision to freeze foreign workers has put the industry in a dilemma as it needs skilled labour.

"There is poor response for the rehiring programme and furthermore once they obtain their work permits, they avoid the 3D(difficult, dirty and dusty job). The move to other sectors for easier jobs such as cashiers," said Chua.

He also pointed out that the furniture industry also played an important role to boost the nation's economy.

In 2015 Malaysia's total furniture export stood at RM9.142 billion with 62% of the output coming from Johor Furniture Association.The export value rose to 14.1% as compared to RM8.1 billion in 2014

Meanwhile the Federation of Johore Furniture Manufacturers and Traders Association president Neo Chee Kiat said the Muar furniture industry usually produces some 7,000 containers of furniture a month and now with the shortage of skilled workers, it can hardly produce goods for 5,000 containers.

"We have submitted a memorandum on the shortage of skilled workers to relevant government departments since last year but there seemed to be no light to their plight," said Neo, adding 230 companies in Muar alone need 19,140 foreign workers, 40 companies in Batu Pahat (2,265 foreign workers) and 18 companies in Johor Baru (1,101 foreign workers).

Neo said if the situation continues, they are forced to cut down their local management staff.