Manpower is one of the most pressing challenges facing by the Malaysia Construction Industry as the “Wet Trade” construction approach at present relies heavily on the availability of the large number of foreign labour. Economic Report 2001/2002 stated the employment of 769,300 workforces in the construction sector, foreign workers are estimated to constitute 70% (or 538,500) of the construction workforce.
The Malaysian Construction Industry has revamped its employment of foreign workers beginning the third quarter of 2002. As of today, approximately 300,000 legal foreign workers are employed in the construction industry (Wong, 2002).
2 Background of Study
The term ‘foreign workers’ empower a group of foreign nationals who legal right to work in a country where they have been officially recruited (Zehadul et al., 1999). Miller (1991) used the term ‘foreign workers’ as these person come from a welter of nationality groups, living and working with diverse legal status in a particular country. K. Rajkumar (2001) defined the ‘foreign employee’ as general an employee who is a non-citizen. Our definition of foreign workers in Malaysia indicates that they do not have any right to settle in this country.
The presence of foreign workers in Malaysia is not a new phenomenon. During the colonial period, foreign workers were recruited from China, Indonesia, and India to work in the mines and rubber estates. Malaysia imported foreign workers in the 19th century to develop its plantations and mines. Since both plantation and mines offered year-round jobs, permanent immigrants were encouraged to move to Malaysia.
The perceptible economic growth of the country since the seventies has created a regular and increasing demand for foreign workers in all sectors of the economy. Therefore, the employment of foreign workers in Malaysia has now become a regular phenomenon.
Now, there are more than 2 million foreign workers in Malaysia including legal and illegal workers from Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, The Philippines, India and other countries (Ghosh, 1998). In the words of the World Bank, Malaysia is now a small island in the sea of potential foreign workers.
The percentage of skilled and professional workers is much lower than percentage of unskilled workers. Most of the foreign workers are concentrated in agriculture, construction and manufacturing sectors. This reflects that Malaysia, to some extent and for some years, has had to depend on foreign labour to sustain its economic growth and to remain the recent influx of immigrant workers has raised many issues and implications.
3 Problem Statement
The construction industry has been experiencing an acute labour shortage since the eighties. In the meantime, labour demand has been constantly increasing in the construction sector because the higher tempo of development. Due to the labour shortage, the wage rates of all categories of workers have gone up but supply of labour cannot be increases to the same extent as the demand for labour. Therefore, the gap has to be filled by importing foreign labour.
Jobs in the Malaysian construction industry are becoming unpopular among the working population in newly industrialized countries as they are more labour intensive, often difficult and to some extent, foreign labour has helped to reduce the shortage of workers in the construction industry.
Consequently, the inflow of the foreign labour into the country served to overcome this labour shortage. Nonetheless, the present influx of foreign labour in recent years, legal and illegal, has created a number of major issues and implications on the local scenes: economic, social as well as political.
Mr. Patrick Wong (2003), Vice President of...