Thursday December 18, 2008
Several firms showing signs of retrenching workers early
By SIM LEOI LEOI
PUTRAJAYA: Several companies have indicated to the Government they will be retrenching workers in January and February.
Human Resources Ministry secretary-general Datuk Thomas George said all were in the manufacturing sector, which was dependent on exports and overseas demand.
“Our labour officers have been told to focus their monitoring on areas in Penang, Selangor and Johor, where the manufacturing sector is the strongest.
“We have also been told to expect a significant increase in lay-offs in the six months ahead,” he told reporters at a briefing on Malaysia’s employment outlook yesterday.
However, Thomas stressed that the current situation was still healthy compared to 1998, at the height of the Asian financial crisis when there were 80,000 lay-offs.
“Normally it is around 30,000 or less. And we still have over 77,000 active vacancies registered with JobsMalaysia,” he said.
To an accusation by trade unions that reports of retrenchment and a possible slowdown had been exaggerated and exploited by unscrupulous employers, Thomas said: “This is real and we are not overdoing it. We are not shielded from it.”
Thomas said the ministry would implement a “train and place” programme for those retrenched without compensation or benefits.
“While undergoing training, these workers will be paid an allowance to help them tide over the crisis.”
In BUTTERWORTH, more than 60,000 workers in the seafood export industry are expecting difficult times in the next two months if the Government fails to overturn the ban on import to the European Union.
It was imposed in June after the EU health authority found unsatisfactory conditions in aquaculture farms, seafood-processing facilities, fishing vessels and fish-landing areas.
It remains in force until the next inspection in early March.
Malaysian Frozen Food Processors Association president Chng Chin Hooi said many processing plants would not last through Chinese New Year. “Seafood exporters have estimated loss in sales and production of more than RM1.5bil to date,” he said at a press conference yesterday.
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