KUCHING: PKR Sarawak’s Angkatan Muda Keadilan (AMK), the party’s youth wing, suggests the government use technical training institutes in the State to train more locals to work in the plantation industry in order to reduce dependency on foreign workers.
Its Miri chief Steve Teo Jia Jun noted that 76.5 per cent of workers in the palm oil industry were foreign workers, thus efforts to encourage more locals, especially from rural areas, must be stepped up.
He pointed out that many technical institutes in the state such as Sarawak Skills Development Centre (PPKS), SP Training Centre and International Institute of Plantation Management provide training on plantation.
“But the current situation indicates that it could be lack of notification of the programmes (offered by these technical training institutes), especially in remote areas.”
Therefore, he suggested that officers from Human Resources Department and technical training institutes go to rural areas more often to promote their plantation related programmes.
He was referring to the announcement by Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot that 12,000 Bangladeshis would be recruited to meet the shortfall of 62,000 workers in the plantation sector.
He also referred to the statement by Land Development Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing that the state was losing some RM1 billion a year from uncollected fresh fruit bunches (FFBs).
“The estimated number of workers needed to collect these FFBs is about 30,000. Because of that, we are sourcing workers from Bangladesh to work for the plantation,” Masing was quoted as saying.
Teo said: “However, it was found that most of the Bangladeshi workers perform poorly in plantations and have been shifted to the construction and manufacturing sectors thereafter as referred to the Peninsular Malaysia experience.”
He, however, said Masing did mention the advantages of recruiting foreign workers.
“As opposed to Masing’s statement, a more constructive statement had been made by state PKR vice-chairman
See Chee How that ‘the RM1 billion can be used to employ 30,000 local workers with a monthly salary of RM2,778 each’.”
With that kind of salary, Teo believed that many locals, especially those from the remote areas, would be motivated to work in the plantation industry.