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Migrant workers in eateries still waiting to be screened

03 Jul 2020 / 10:52 H.

PETALING JAYA: Most migrant workers employed in eateries have yet to be screened for Covid-19 despite a requirement to undergo such tests.

“We are still waiting for an appointment date to send our workers for the swab test (to determine if they have been infected),” the Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) said yesterday.

Its president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan (pix) said he has been informed by the Social Security Organisation (Socso) that priority will be given to migrant workers in the security and construction sectors for now.

On May 4, Senior Minister (Defence) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that all migrant workers in the country, irrespective of which sector they were in, would be required to undergo screening for Covid-19.

The directive has seen opposition from employers.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan had at the time pointed out that it would be difficult to test more than two million registered migrant workers.

Apart from that, there are also those who entered Malaysia illegally to seek employment.

At RM500 per person, the cost would be prohibitive for employers, Shamsuddin said.

However, Ismail Sabri pointed out that at least 60% of migrant workers were already registered as contributors of Socso, making them eligible to file a claim for the cost of the test.

Non-governmental organisation Migrant Care Malaysia said the government should take the opportunity now to weed out foreign workers who have broken local laws.

Its coordinator Alex Ong said there are migrants who abuse their work permits to engage in business rather than work in sectors for which they had been hired.

“Theirs are work permits, not business visas.”

Ong said many of these workers had been brought into the country by agents. Some employers outsource their search for foreign workers to agents rather than go through the routine of applying for permits from the various authorities.

However, such practices have been outlawed and these outsourcing companies are deemed illegal in Malaysia.

Many of these outsourcing companies or agents have been found to be engaged in human trafficking activities.

Ong claimed that many of the migrants brought in by these outsourcing companies were free to pick and choose the sectors they wanted to work in, making them “free agents”.

“The outsourcing companies are instrumental in creating a community of ‘floating migrant workers’ with work permits but they act like freelancers – working in whichever sector they want.”

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Migrant workers in eateries still waiting to be screened

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