'Workers in Malaysia can't change employer'

Written by Agencies | Kuala Lumpur, October 16: | Updated: Oct 17 2007, 00:16am hrs
The Malaysian government has said all foreign workers who complain of being harassed cannot ask for a change of employers and will therefore have to go home.

Malaysia is heavily dependent on foreign workers to help in its plantation, construction, hotel and restaurant sectors.

House helps are also sourced from abroad as Malaysians are not keen to work in these areas.

"If changing employers were allowed, it will open up the floodgates and there would be no end to it," Immigration Department Enforcement Director Ishak Mohamed said.

Following complaints by hundreds of Bangladeshi workers against their agents and employers last week, the Immigration official observed that it had now become a norm for workers to protest and demand for a change of employer.

Since the mass protest by more than 700 Bangladeshis, there have been various other cases nationwide, he said.

"It is clear from last week's incident that the protest culture is becoming a norm among them and this is not good for the country's economy.

"If they are not happy, they should make official complaints and let the authorities handle the matter through the Labour Department," Mohamed said.

Last week more than 700 Bangladeshi workers in 27 buses came to Kuala Lumpur from neighbouring Batu Pahat, asking for a change of employers and refused to eat unless their demands were met.