Foreign workers to wait until Sarawakians get vaccinated

Mohammad Ibrahim Hamid

Entry to state

KUCHING: Foreign workers should only be allowed into Sarawak at a later stage after most of the state’s population have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) Sarawak chairman Mohammad Ibrahim Hamid is of the view that it would be safer to allow them to enter then.

He expressed apprehension on the state government’s decision to allow the entry of foreign workers from Mar 1, subject to stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs), as announced by the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) on Wednesday.

Ibrahim said on the one hand, industries that needed to employ foreign workers were suffering and this affected the state’s economy, but on the other hand the spread of Covid-19 needed to be considered seriously.

“The daily number of positive infections is still in the three figures range, which is rather high although imported cases are not that high.

“What we fear is that this lifting (of the restriction on foreign workers) may contribute to higher numbers of imported cases even though the requirements for bringing in foreign workers are strict and stringent,” said Ibrahim when contacted today.

Meanwhile, MTUC Sarawak secretary Andrew Lo said there were so many retrenchments of local workers, adding that employers still wanted foreign workers despite the high cost of bringing them in.

“There have been a few Covid-19 clusters involving workers’ crowded housing. They also have to comply with the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990.

“Not to mention the tens of millions of ringgits in agent fees. All these extra costs could be used to pay higher salaries for local workers,” he said.