KUALA LUMPUR – The shortage of foreign workers following the freeze on its intake due to the Covid-19 has caused 300 out of 2,000 textile shops to wind down. The number is expected to grow by the end of this year.
The Secretary of Malaysian Indian Textiles and General Store Association (MITA), Datin R Maheswary said that the shortage of manpower is nothing new as it has been happening for the past 10 years but its impact was huge during the Covid-19 pandemic to the extent that it caused the Indian textile entrepreneurs to suffer huge losses.
She, who is also the Treasurer of Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KLSICCI) said that the problem also happened to other sub-sectors such as the goldsmiths and barbers who are mostly Indian entrepreneurs in the country.
“We are all very stressed. We have voiced out our opinion, spoke to the authorities, including the government, ministers and others. We did everything but there was no positive sign, on the contrary, it got worse.
“After the Covid-19 pandemic, especially during one-year Movement Control Order (MCO), most of them have to wind down their businesses as we are suffering from the shortage of workers after they return to their home countries.
“I personally have to close down 13 branches of textile stores nationwide. Now, I only have one left in Klang. I am not merely talking about my own hardship but I’m also voicing out for the others. We need foreign workers, especially from India to work in this industry,” she told MalaysiaGazette today.
She also confessed that most of the local community are not interested to work in the 3D category despite the lucrative offer and benefits.
“The government froze the intake of foreign workers so that the locals can work in their own country but it is sad that not many people take this opportunity.
“They have high education and refuse to work in this sector. They choose to migrate to other countries because they are not happy with the holidays they get here.
“For example, the textile stores are the busiest during the holidays, however, they choose to be with their family than to work.
“This is one of our issues. The minimum wage is not an issue. On the contrary, foreign workers want to send money back home and they are willing to work long hours even during the public holidays to get overtime allowances,” she added.
Maheswary, who is also the owner of renowned textile stores, Gayathiri Silk Palace said that the locals who are willing to work in the textile sector are fresh school leavers or those who are waiting to be admitted into higher learning institutions.
“Working in this sector requires high commitment as they are constantly being taught about new things, including the types of cloth such as saree, ways to tie saree, they need to learn many things.
“Some employees quit after they get experience as they get better job offers or want to open their own shop. We cannot stop them from progressing.
“So, what is our solution, other than to depend on the foreign workers, especially in the traditional business industry which requires skills from India?
“Until when must we suffer this fate? We truly hope that the government can be a solution to ensure that no one else will wind down,” she pleaded. -MalaysiaGazette
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