PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has said automation and mechanisation should not result in unemployment and that the government should look at increasing wages to attract locals.
“It is pointless to automate and modernise work when minimum wage is kept low, because this will not attract local workers and Malaysia will continue to depend on migrant workers,” MTUC secretary general J Solomon said.
The government must, therefore, carefully study the effects of such a policy for the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, he added.
“The Industrialised Building System (IBS) to reduce low-skilled foreign workers will not be a good idea if it is for the purpose of completely eradicating human participation and intervention,” he told FMT.
He was commenting on the government’s decision to encourage automation and mechanisation, especially in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, to reduce dependency on foreign workers as underlined in the 11th Malaysia Plan Mid-Term Review.
In the manufacturing sector, the government will continue to encourage the implementation of the IBS to reduce low-skilled foreign workers.
Solomon said when people were laid off because of automation they lost their self–esteem, adding that they might be the sole breadwinners in the family.
He said workers could not go to a new workplace as they were deemed to be unemployable in the new environment.
“They cannot be retrained because of their advanced age,” he said, adding this was one of the social costs to consider.
However, he said, there would be a need to introduce automation and mechanisation in some sectors if Malaysia could not produce sufficient local workers to cater to the demands.
He said it was all right for some automation in sectors with an abundance of migrant workers, which caused a wage depression, and sectors that depended too much on migrant labour.
Meanwhile, Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) vice-president Nathan Suppiah welcomed the plan to increase automation and mechanisation to reduce dependency on foreign workers.
Nathan said there are many problems in hiring foreign workers. This includes “endless problems” in requesting for foreign workers, difficulty in renewing work permits, and agents at every level thus creating obstacles.
However, he said, there should be a public-private partnership to provide outreach programmes to guide the industry in the adoption of automation and mechanisation.
“Like in many developed and industrialised countries, Malaysian industries are also quickly adopting the benefits of Industrial Revolution 4.0.
“But this takes time as we need to skill up, and re-skill, in our human resources development first.”
Source : https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/10/20/mtuc-raise-wages-to-attract-local-workers-first-then-go-into-automation/