34,000 more out of work in Eurozone

BRUSSELS: Unemployment in the eurozone remained at record highs in August and the number of people out of work climbed again, highlighting the human cost of the bloc’s three-year debt crisis.

Joblessness in the 17 countries sharing the euro was 11.4% of the working population in August, which was stable compared with July on a statistical basis, but another 34,000 people were out of work in the month, the EU’s statistics office Eurostat said yesterday.

That left 18.2 million people unemployed in the eurozone, the highest level since the euro’s inception in 1999, while 25.5 million people were out of a job in the wider 27-nation European Union, Eurostat said.

The debt crisis that began in Greece in 2010 and has spread across the eurozone to engulf Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus and the much bigger economy of Spain has devastated business confidence and sapped companies’ abilities to create jobs.

A European-wide drive to cut debts and deficits to try to win back that lost confidence has led governments to cut back spending and lay off staff, while stubbornly high inflation and limited bank credit are adding to household’s problems.

Joblessness could go beyond 19 million by early 2014, or about 12% of the eurozone’s workforce, according to a new study by consultancy Ernst & Young, predicting that rate to rise to 27% in indebted Greece. That compares with 24.4% in the country in June, the latest data available.

“In this difficult environment, companies are likely to reduce employment further in order to preserve productivity and profitability,” the report said.

Eurozone manufacturing put in its worst performance in the three months to September since the depths of the 2008/2009 financial crisis, with factories hit by falling demand despite cutting prices, a survey showed yesterday.

The International Monetary Fund expects the eurozone’s economy to shrink 0.3% this year and only a weak recovery to emerge next year that will generate 0.7% growth.

But the joblessness picture also obscures wide regional variations. In Austria, unemployment is the eurozone’s lowest at 4.5% in August, a slight fall from July, while Spain has the highest rate at 25.1% in the month.

While a bursting of a real estate bubble in Spain and the end of a decade of credit-fuelled expansion in Greece account for difficulties in the Mediterranean, policymakers still face the challenge of trying to revive growth across the bloc.

The recession in the eurozone is due to the tough consolidation course in the peripheral countries, weaker global demand and the high uncertainty coming from the sovereign debt crisis,” Commerzbank economist Christoph Weil wrote in a recent research note.

Eurozone and UK central bankers will likely leave policy unchanged at their meetings this week, but both will announce additional measures to help their moribund economies before the year’s end, according to a poll. – Reuters


US Growing Unemployed: A Case of Benign Neglect

Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The political power of the working class has diminished in recent decades, and that helps to explain why US politicians have not paid enough attention to the unemployment problem.

The high unemployment rate ought to be a national emergency. There are millions of people in need of jobs. The lost income as a result of the recession totals hundreds of billions of dollars annually, and the longer the problem persists, the more permanent the damage becomes. Why doesn’t the unemployment problem get more attention? Why have other worries such as inflation and debt reduction dominated the conversation instead? As I noted at the end of my last column, the increased concentration of political power at the top of the income distribution provides much of the explanation.

Consider the Federal Reserve. Again and again we hear Federal Reserve officials say that an outbreak of inflation could undermine the Fed’s hard-earned credibility and threaten its independence from Congress. But why is the Fed only worried about inflation? Why aren’t officials at the Fed just as worried about Congress reducing the Fed’s independence because of high and persistent unemployment?

Similar questions can be asked about fiscal policy. Why is most of the discussion in Congress focused on the national debt rather than the unemployed? Is it because the wealthy fear that they will be the ones asked to pay for monetary and fiscal policies that mostly benefit others, and since they have the most political power their interests – keeping inflation low, cutting spending, and lowering tax burdens – dominate policy discussions?

There was, of course, a stimulus program at the beginning of Obama’s presidency, but it was much too small and relied far more on tax cuts than most people realize. The need to shape the package in a way that satisfied the politically powerful, especially the interests that have captured the Republican Party, made it far less effective than it might have been. In the end, it had no chance of fully meeting the challenge posed by such a severe recession, and when it became clear that additional help was needed, those same interests stood in the way of doing more.

Republican policymakers give us all sorts of excuses for blocking further action to help the unemployed. We are told the problem is structural – there is a geographical or talent mismatch between labor availability and labor needs – and nothing can be done to help. But something can be done. We can help workers move to where the jobs are, encourage firms to locate in areas where workers are readily available, and help with job retraining. If mismatches are really the problem, why aren’t Republicans leading the charge on these policies? If they care about the unemployed rather than the tax burden of the wealthy, then why are they allowing community colleges – one of the best ways we have of providing job training for new and displaced workers – to be gutted with budget cuts?

We are also told that the deficit is too large already, but there’s still plenty of room to do more for the unemployed, as long as we have a plan to address the long-run debt problem. But even if the deficit is a problem, why won’t Republicans support one of the many balanced budget approaches to stimulating the economy? Could it be that these policies invariably require higher income households to give something up so that we can help the less fortunate? Tax cuts for the wealthy are always welcome among Republicans no matter how it impacts the debt, but creating job opportunities through, say, investing in infrastructure?

Forget it. Even though the costs of many highly beneficial infrastructure projects are as low as they get, and even though investing in infrastructure now would save us from much larger costs down the road – it’s a budget saver, not a budget buster – Republicans leaders in the House are balking at even modest attempts to provide needed job opportunities for the unemployed.

The imbalance in political power, obstructionism from Republicans designed to improve their election chances, and attempts by Republicans to implement a small government ideology are a large part of the explanation for why the unemployed aren’t getting the help they deserve.

But Democrats aren’t completely off the hook either. Centrist Democrats beholden to big money interests are definitely a problem, and Democrats in general have utterly failed to bring enough attention to the unemployment problem. Would these things happen if workers had more political power?

When we talk about leveling the playing field, it is generally in terms of economic opportunity. However, leveling the political playing field is just as important, and in the past unions provided workers with a powerful voice in the political arena. But unions have largely faded from the scene, leaving workers with very little organized power. Correcting the political imbalance this has created through the renewed political empowerment of the working class must be part of any attempt to improve our response to serious recessions.

It also suggests a solution — renewed political empowerment of the working class — but that’s easier said than done.

By MARK THOMA, The Fiscal Times; Newscribe : get free news in real time

Eurozone unemployment hits record 10.9% as manufacturing slumps to recession!

Eurozone unemployment hit a record in March, with Spain’s 24.1% rate setting the pace.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Unemployment in the eurozone rose to 10.9% in March, another sign of the broad economic weakness and possible recession across the continent.

The unemployment rate across the broader 27-nation European Union remained at 10.2% in March, according to a organization report Wednesday.

But the 17-nation eurozone unemployment edged up from 10.8% in February. The EU and eurozone rates are the highest since the creation of the common euro currency in 1999.

There are now 13 nations in Europe struggling with double-digit percentage unemployment, led by a 24.1% rate in Spain, which was a record high, and 21.7% in Greece.

The rising jobless rates are primarily blamed on the ongoing European sovereign debt crisis, which has forced governments to take tough austerity measures to cut spending.

There are 12 countries in Europe that have had two or more consecutive quarters in which their gross domestic product has dropped — a condition many economists say define a recession. Nine of the countries are in the eurozone, and three use their own currency.

The United Kingdom, which had an 8.2% unemployment rate in its most recent reading, is the largest economy now in recession.

The entire EU and and eurozone are widely believed to be in recession as well, a fact likely to be confirmed when their combined GDPs are reported on May 15.

Even some of the healthier countries in Europe are likely to meet that criteria, including Germany, the EU’s largest economy and one in which unemployment is 5.6%, the fourth-lowest rate on the continent.

German GDP declined 0.2% in the fourth quarter and many economists are forecasting another drop in the first quarter, suggesting Germany could be in recession soon.


By contrast to Europe, the U.S. unemployment rate has been steadily falling, reaching 8.2% in March. The jobless rate here reached a 26-year high of 10.0% in October 2009, but it has declined in six of the last seven months, shaving almost a full percentage point off the 9.1% rate of last August.

Economists surveyed by CNNMoney forecast that the rate will stay unchanged in the April jobs report this Friday, while hiring is expected to pick up to a gain of 160,000 jobs

By Chris Isidore @CNNMoney ,  Newscribe : get free news in real time

Eurozone manufacturing heads towards recession


(BRUSSELS) – Gloom over eurozone manufacturing deepened in April, highlighting the impact of policies to control budgets and signalling recessionary pressures, a Markit survey showed on Wednesday.

A key index of activity based on a survey by Markit fell to almost the lowest level for three years.

Markit publishes closely watched leading indicators of economic activity and in its latest survey for its purchasing managers’ index the firm said: “The eurozone manufacturing downturn took a further turn for the worse in April.”

The adjusted manufacturing PMI figure, closely watched as an indicator of economic trends, fell to 45.9 from 47.7 in March.

A figure of below 50 points to contraction and Markit noted that “the headline PMI has signalled contraction in each of the past nine months.”

The chief economist at Markit, Chris Williamson, said: “Manufacturing in the eurozone took a further lurch into a new recession in April, with the PMI suggesting that output fell at (a) worryingly steep quarterly rate of over 2.0 percent.”

He said that “austerity in deficit-fighting countries is having an increasing impact on demand across the region” and that “even German manufacturing output showed a renewed decline.”

Williamson commented that the latest forecast from the European Central Bank “of merely a slight contraction of GDP (gross domestic product) this year is therefore already looking optimistic.”

He added: “However, with the survey also showing inflationary pressures to have waned, the door may be opening for further stimulus.”

His remarks highlight controversy over policies in many countries to correct budget deficits and heavy debt to install confidence on debt markets where governments borrow.

There are increasing warnings that the eurozone must raise economic growth, but opinions differ on the best route, with some saying that budget austerity opens the way to structural reform and competitiveness and others saying that extra stimulus is essential.

Markit said that “the April PMIs also indicated that manufacturing weakness was no longer confined to the region’s geographic periphery.”

In Germany, which has the biggest economy in the eurozone and has shown broad resilience to downturn elsewhere, Markit also noted a setback.

“The German PMI fell to a 33-month low, conditions deteriorated sharply again in France and the Netherlands also contracted at a faster rate,” it said.

Markit said: “There was no respite for the non-core nations either, with steep and accelerating downturns seen in Italy, Spain and Greece. Only the PMIs for Austria and Ireland held above the 50.0 no-change mark.”

Markit said that manufacturers reported weak demand from clients inside and outside the zone and this had hit even German companies.

The worsening outlook for eurozone manufacturing was also affecting the job market, Markit said, just as eurozone data put the unemployment rate at a record high level.

In manufacturing “job losses were reported for the third straight month in April, with the rate of decline the sharpest in over two years,” Markit said on the basis of its survey. – AFP.

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Eurozone unemployment hits new record

Eurozone unemployment rate rises

Unemployment across countries that use the euro edged higher in February to 10.8%.

 At 23.6%, Spain has the highest level of unemployment in the eurozone

That’s up from 10.7% in January and the highest level since the introduction of the single currency in 1999. Spain has the highest rate of 23.6%.

Meanwhile, a separate report confirmed that manufacturing activity in Europe shrank in February.

It is the eighth month in a row that the Purchasing Manager’s Index has been below 50, which indicates contraction.Job centre, Burgos, Spain

Miserable March’

France was particularly weak, with manufacturing activity falling to the lowest level in almost three years.

“Eurozone manufacturers suffered a miserable March, with a renewed downturn in production wiping out marginal gains seen in the first two months of the year,” said Markit chief economist Chris Williamson.

February unemployment rates

  • Spain 23.6%
  • Portugal 15.0%
  • France 10.0%
  • Italy 9.3%
  • Germany 5.7%

“Manufacturing is therefore likely to have acted as a drag on economic growth in the eurozone in the first quarter, falling to a lesser extent than in the final quarter of last year but nevertheless failing to prevent the economy sliding back into recession,” he said.

Other economists agree that the euro area is probably in recession.

“It looks odds-on that eurozone GDP contracted again in the first quarter of 2012, thereby moving into recession,” said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight.

“And the prospects for the second quarter of 2012 currently hardly look rosy.”

The slowdown is creating a tough environment for job seekers. Italy saw unemployment hit 9.3% in February, the highest level since the country started collecting monthly figures in 2004.

For those aged between 15 and 24 the rate was 31.9%.

Prime Minister Mario Monti is trying to push through reform of the labour market, which he says will boost employment.

The lowest unemployment rates among countries that use the euro are to be found in Austria (4.2%), the Netherlands (4.9%) and Germany (5.7%).

Confidence among European business leaders has been undermined by Europe’s debt crisis.

Finance ministers will hope that an agreement to increase the size of the eurozone’s rescue fund will help bolster sentiment.

They agreed to boost the joint lending power of the “firewall” from 500bn euros ($668bn; £416bn) to 800bn euros ($1.1tn; £667bn).

The firewall is the permanent mechanism to bail out troubled euro zone nations.

BBC news – Newscribe : get free news in real time

Related post:

Britain universities in crisis

Eurozone unemployment hits new record

The euro sculpture at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt Unemployment is at the highest rate since the euro was launched in 1999

The jobless rate in the 17 countries that use the single currency was 10.4% in December, unchanged from November’s figure which was revised up from 10.3%.

Some 16.5 million people were out of work in the eurozone in December, up 751,000 on the year before.

The highest unemployment rate remains in Spain (22.9%), while the lowest is in Austria (4.1%).

Unemployment has been rising throughout 2011, as the debt crisis in the region has continued. In December 2010, the unemployment rate in the euro area was 10%.

Investment delays

Guillaume Menuet, economist at Citigroup, said he expected the number of people out of work to increase throughout 2012.

“If you think about the direction of employment expectations that you see across various business surveys, the outlook for employment doesn’t look particularly enticing, simply because the uncertainty is very high.

“Start Quote

Much energy and argument has been spent on this agreement. It is questionable, however, whether it will have much influence on the immediate crisis. ”

image of Gavin Hewitt Gavin Hewitt BBC Europe editor

“In many cases you find firms continuing to delay investment projects. For those that are still making profits, hiring is being frozen, and for those which are under pressure to hit results or losing money, job losses are becoming the only solution that they have,” he said.

In the 27 EU countries, the unemployment rate was 9.9% in December, with 23.8 million people out of work. November’s figure was also revised up from 9.8% to 9.9%.

The biggest increases over the past year were seen in Greece, Cyprus and Spain.

The largest falls took place in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Deteriorating situation

The issue of jobs and economic growth was a key area for discussion at this week’s summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

On Monday, figures showed that the Spanish economy shrank by 0.3% in the last quarter of 2011. It is now widely expected that Spain will enter recession in the first quarter of this year.

Also on Monday, France cut its growth forecast for this year to 0.5% from 1% “to take into account the deterioration of the economic situation”.

At the Brussels summit, 25 of the 27 member states agreed to join a fiscal treaty, aimed at much closer co-ordination of budget policy across the EU to prevent excessive debts accumulating.

The UK and the Czech Republic did not sign up to it. UK Prime Minister David Cameron said he had “legal concerns” about the use of EU institutions in enforcing the treaty, while the Czechs cited “constitutional reasons” for their refusal.

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Job-seekers not so street-savvy these days; Top American graduates heading to India for employment!

Did you know famous Rod Stewart had football trials at Celtic and dug graves?

Monday Starters – By Soo Ewe Jin

DID you know that Rod Stewart had football trials at Celtic and worked as a grave digger before starting his music career by singing on the streets across Europe? Or that Michael Dell’s first job was as a dishwasher at a Chinese restaurant earning US$2 an hour?
Image representing Michael Dell as depicted in...Image via CrunchBase

What about your first job? There are many magazines, including Reader’s Digest, that have at one time or another, run a column simply entitled My First Job.

Of course, they only interview the famous personalities but I am sure even ordinary people like us have extraordinary first-job experiences to share.

Rajan Moses is well known in the journalistic fraternity but what he shared in The Star last Tuesday (The Star, where I cut my teeth, see below) contains an important lesson for all of us, especially the thousands of unemployed graduates out there.

Rajan was studying mass communications at Universiti Sains Malaysia when The Star came into existence. He wanted to be part of this racy new tabloid so he rode his motorcycle to the Weld Quay office to try his luck and see if he could get his break into journalism.

Rajan wrote how he managed to slip past the guard on duty and headed straight to the office of the legendary KS Choong, the founding editor of this newspaper. As he was talking to the secretary, Choong peered through the glass window from his desk and beckoned him in. He had a strict face, but was surprisingly kind and gentle.

“When I told him that I wanted to intern at the paper, he smiled and said yes. He gave me my first break and told me I could be The Star’s USM correspondent, and even said that I could work full time with the paper in Kuala Lumpur during my three-month varsity vacations,” Rajan wrote.

From that first break, Rajan went on to have an illustrious career not only in The Star but in other media organisations at home and abroad. He is currently with Ogilvy as a senior media adviser.

I find recollections like this very rare these days. There was a time when people would do all sorts of things to get a job, but these days, many of them expect the job to be handed to them on a silver platter.

I believe we were more street-savvy those days and we knew how to take the initiative. When I tell fresh graduates that they do not need to wait for advertisements to appear before they apply, they are not too convinced.

After finishing my Form 6, I decided to write in to all the newspapers to see if they would offer me a job.

The National Echo was the first to respond. The kind and gentle Choong at that time had moved to The Echo which had been revamped to be also a tabloid to challenge The Star. He brought along many of The Star’s pioneers with him.

At the interview, the first thing he said was, “So you are the fella who is always writing letters to the editor. I didn’t know you were still in school then. You had so many good comments on current issues. When can you start?”

So, for a princely sum of RM135, I started my journalism career as a cadet reporter.

For the next job I applied for, I was surprised I was even called for the interview because I thought I had flunked the pre-entry written test.

One section required us to explain the meaning of 20 rather bombastic words.

I didn’t know any, so I wrote, “If I had a dictionary with me, I could give you the meaning of these words. But if I have to use a dictionary to read a newspaper, then these words certainly don’t deserve to see print.”

There was still an hour to go, but I handed in my test paper and walked out of the hall. Call it bravado or whatever, but the editors appreciated my candour. I was interviewed and I got the job.

Deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin wonders what young people do to get a job these days besides giving us those templated CVs that are strong on style but weak on substance.

The Star, where I cut my teeth

I WAS one of the pioneers who had the good fortune to work with The Star at Weld Quay in Penang soon after its birth. The Star was the launching pad for my eventual success as a seasoned journalist, correspondent, chief sub-editor and editor with the international news agency Reuters, the national news agency Bernama and the Business Times, spanning a period of over 32 years.

I believe I owe a care of duty to The Star and its founding editor K.S. Choong, who gave me my first break.

The launch of The Star in September 1971 had a great impact on Penangites who were so used to the existing newspaper fare that the arrival of something new perked them up. Finally, an alternative paper to read had arrived, and a racy tabloid at that!

Newspaper boys sold the first editions of the new paper late into the night on Penang’s streets, and The Star created quite a buzz.

It had a picture of a Page 3 girl daily (very much like what the The Sun and Daily Mirror did in London) and bright, bold and interesting human interest stories and pictures which sparked much local interest.

As an undergraduate at Universiti Sains Malaysia pursuing a Mass Communications degree, I was on the hunt for an internship to learn more about my passion – journalism. I saw in The Star my guide and mentor.

Plucking up courage one fateful day, I rode my motorcycle to the Weld Quay office to try my luck and see if I could get my break into journalism.

I had long hair then (which was the vogue among students), but managed to slip past the guard on duty and headed straight to the office of the Editor-in-Chief, K.S. Choong.

I told his secretary that I wanted to see him. Choong peered through the glass window from his desk and beckoned me in. He had a strict face, but was surprisingly kind and gentle.

When I told him that I wanted to intern at the paper, he smiled and said yes. He gave me my first break and told me I could be The Star’s USM correspondent, and even said that I could work full time with the paper in Kuala Lumpur during my three-month varsity vacations.

It was indeed an honour to be a Star reporter then. It opened many doors for me in Penang – people started recognising this rookie reporter – and with my enthusiasm bursting, I started seeing stories everywhere and in many things.

One of the biggest stories I ever broke as the USM correspondent was about how forged coupons were used by a syndicate at a major USM carnival, which resulted in the organisers losing thousands of ringgit.

The work – for which I was paid by the column inch (that is, the length of the story) – earned me about RM50-RM60 a month, good supplementary income for a poor student.

Then when the long university vacation came around mid-year, I was despatched as a reporter with The Star in KL where the paper at that time was circulating a few thousand copies. I was paid RM100 a month.

The KL office was then headed by bureau chief Maureen Hoo, who taught me a lot about writing news stories by re-writing my copy and who was generous enough to let me go out and pound the streets to find really rare and interesting stories.

There were five or six staff in the rather small KL office in a building in Jalan Silang in downtown KL. The Star was really small in KL.

Then we moved to the Jalan Travers office in Bangsar, where the circulation department, advertisement salesmen, and editorial department were all housed in one place for the first time in KL.

At that time, in 1972-73, The Star circulation was only a mere 8,000 copies, and we had to fight hard to get our KL stories in the Penang-centric edition of the newspaper.

Lady Luck poured her fortune on me when I got my first front page byline after witnessing a major fire at a rice/padi godown alongside the railway line near the Brickfields/Jalan Travers junction. Police estimated the fire had caused millions of ringgit in damage, quite a large sum at that time.

It was truly gratifying to see my name on the front-page story, and I remember showing it to my parents, relatives and friends. I think I still have a copy of it somewhere at home.

Soon after came another front-page byline from me in The Star when a tall and well-endowed Australian stripper I had interviewed in KL several weeks before was found walking around bald, naked and in a drug-induced daze along Batu Feringghi beach in Penang.

My experience as a reporter for the then under-dog newspaper was really exciting.

On one assigment, our photographer, the late Mok Yong, and I interviewed two sales representatives of the “Perfumes of the Orient” company at their stand in the Federal Hotel in KL. Soon after the article and photo came out, the local perfume company wrote to my editor and booked a whole year’s worth of advertisements in the paper.

I received a congratulatory letter from the boss because, as the under-dog newspaper then, it was tough getting advertising revenue.

Upon graduation from USM in 1974, I joined The Star full time as a journalist in Penang at the Pitt Street office. I remember I was paid RM125 a month, although I was a graduate, and given an increment of a mere RM15 a year.

It was not the money I was working for. My friends who had graduated along with me from USM were earning about RM650-RM800 a month in government service or as graduate trainees elswhere.

I chose to remain in The Star despite the low salary because of my passion for journalism, loyalty to the paper that gave me my first break, and the great company of senior journalists who taught me the ropes.

That was when I met former greats who believed in the cause and laid the foundations for The Star to become the great paper it is today.

I remember the valuable guidance and counselling from pioneer Star journalists and editors like K. Sugumaran, Charlie Chan, Mohanan Menon, R.D. Selva, Gobind Rudra, Tony Rangel, R. Pachymuthu, Khoo Kay Peng, Tony Chew, Alan Tan, Soon Boon Phin, S.P. Cheah, Robert Ang, Robert Kuan, Sri K. Nayagam, and a host of others.

In November 1975, having earned a solid base in journalism and becoming well honed in reporting news at The Star, I made the decision to leave Penang and return to Kuala Lumpur to work for Bernama as a news executive.

There was no looking back after that.

In 1983, I was head-hunted by Reuters to join the KL bureau. I went on to become the pioneer Malaysian journalist to be posted by an international news agency to the United States – Chicago and Washington DC, between 1987 and 1991.

After 20 successful years with Reuters as bureau chief in Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, chief subeditor in Hong Kong and Singapore, I returned to KL and worked for the Business Times as executive editor for several years.

Today I work for Ogilvy, a PR and advertising agency, still keeping my links with journalists as senior media advisor.

When I look back at my early days in The Star, I feel a sense of warmth and gratitude.

My mind races back to the many things I learnt that gave me the foundation to become a journalist, of those who gave me great friendships and taught me the ropes and, of course, some of the funny, weird and interesting news situations that I encountered as a rookie.

Most of all I remember and thank the late founding editor, K.S. Choong, for giving me that first break.

RAJAN MOSES,Kuala Lumpur.

Top American graduates heading to India for employment

Breaking tradition, top American graduates are heading to India to find jobs and opportunity. Many believe that having experience in India is an important addition to their resume in this increasingly globalized world. Some say that its easier to find a good job in India than in the United States, as India’s economy is growing while the US economy is predicted to shrink within the next year.

Malaysia’s one million job vacancies! A quick fix we may rue!

One million jobs to be filled by Malaysians before foreigners are made offers

By ZUHRIN AZAM AHMAD zuhrinazam@thestar.com.my

PUTRAJAYA: A total of 1,051,427 job vacancies have been listed by eight ministries and related agencies to be filled by Malaysians before the remaining vacancies are offered to illegal immigrants granted amnesty under the Government’s legalisation programme.

Workers are needed in five main sectors manufacturing, plantation, agriculture, construction and production.

Home Ministry senior deputy secretary-general Datuk Alwi Ibrahim said the International Trade and Industry Ministry listed the highest need with 275,723 vacancies.

Other vacancies were recorded by the International Trade and Industry Ministry, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry, Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry, Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry, Home Ministry, Tourism Ministry, Transport Ministry and the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).

He said the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry needed 237,700 workers, followed by Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism (220,000), CIDB (165,000), Plantation Industries and Commodities (140,000), Home (10,000), Tourism (2,041) and Transport (963).

“These statistics were part of the feedback from the ministries and their related agencies during a meeting of the 6P amnesty programme chaired by the secretary-general (Tan Sri Mahmood Adam) on Monday.

“It was revealed that the five sectors, indeed, use huge foreign labour,” he said.

Alwi said all the vacancies would be advertised in several local newspapers in stages, beginning tomorrow.

“The jobs will first be offered to Malaysians before any remaining vacancies are opened to foreign workers.

“As such, Malaysians, especially the unemployed, are urged to take up the opportunities which will also support the Government’s effort to reduce dependency on foreign workers,” he said yesterday.

Alwi said the next step in the process would be to match the demand from employers with the list of illegals who have registered under the 6P programme.

As of yesterday, a total of 2,210,235 legal workers and illegal immigrants had registered under the 6P programme, which consists of registration, legalisation, amnesty, supervision, enforcement and deportation.

Alwi said 1,215,004 were illegal immigrants and urged those who had yet to register to do so before the exercise ends on Aug 31.

“The ministry would also like to stress that illegals who registered with the programme will not be arrested,” he said.

MTUC: Better perks needed to attract locals

By ISABELLE LAI isabellelai@thestar.com.my

PETALING JAYA: The Government must improve salaries and benefits of blue-collar workers if it wants to attract locals and reduce the country’s dependence on foreign workers.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) vice-president Mohd Roszali Majid welcomed the Government’s announcement that the over one million job vacancies it had identified would be offered to locals first.

Just do it: Mustafa tells locals to “meet the challenge”.

The 1,051,427 job vacancies are in five main sectors manufacturing, plantation, agriculture, construction and production.

Roszali said the Government must improve the “overall package” for local workers including housing, medical, and transport benefits.

National Union of Plantation Workers (NUPW) secretary-general Datuk G. Sankaran urged the Government to set a decent salary for plantation workers as there was no replacement for older workers who had retired.

“Young people prefer factory jobs but there are so many vacancies in plantations. We badly need local workers,” he said.

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers president Tan Sri Mustafa Mansur urged local workers to “meet the challenge”.

He said higher salaries would depend on their skills, pointing out that highly-skilled construction and factory workers in Europe were well-paid.

“If they don’t take up the jobs, we will continue to have a problem of too many foreign workers in the country,” he said.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said he hoped the Government would proactively find Malaysians to fill the vacancies and not just pay “lip service” by hiring illegal immigrants instead.

He said the Government had to try and encourage locals to venture into these job sectors, especially unemployed youths.

Jobstreet.com country manager Chook Yuh Yng said locals were likely to take up these jobs if the wages were fair.

She said this was imperative as the cost of living was going up.

Recruiter Royce Cheah said locals in rural areas should be more willing to take up these jobs.

 A quick fix we may rue

MALAYSIA has come a long way after getting independence. It’s going to be 54 years. There has been growth and prosperity. We are supposed to be heading towards a high income economy. I wish we can achieve it.

But look at the number of legal and illegal foreign workers in Malaysia. There are probably over three million of them. It is alarming and is a cause for concern. Malaysia has become a haven for foreign workers.

The influx of illegal and legal workers is a serious matter and we should stop our over-dependence on them.

If those who enter the workforce are professionals, highly skilled and come with funds to invest, I reckon it’s acceptable. Unfortunately, we have become a dumping ground in every way, including a transit point for human trafficking and drugs.

We are also gaining mileage as a destination for immoral activities. I can’t blame the culprits. Some of our law enforcers have been complacent and lackadaisical in executing their duties. Where is the patriotism?

There are loopholes and flaws in our system that even the foreigners, especially the illegal immigrants, are aware of. Otherwise how can they get away with falsifying identity cards and passports? They know how to hoodwink our enforcers.

Perhaps some of our enforcers themselves are working hand in glove with these illegals.

I’m not against foreign workers. But their inflow needs to be checked before they become a burden and a menace. In the name of globalisation and wanting revenue from tourism, we are importing a lot of unwanted elements into our country.

Social ills and disharmony are already prevalent at a worrisome level. It’s okay to sympathise with the plight of foreign workers but soon we might be at their mercy. Soon they will be fighting for their rights, and probably appeal to the Human Rights Commission.

I hope the policy makers can see the consequences. Rigid regulations and stern actions are necessary. I reckon we need a special task force to oversee this issue. Nipping it in the bud is the best solution.

Hopefully, the biometric registration will assist in getting a real picture of our country’s predicament. If the inflow of foreign workers is not checked, it’s going to cause a lot of headaches for Malaysia.

Come the festive and public holidays, many major cities and towns will be flooded with them. They will reflect our nation’s identity and image. What a way to advertise the country.

The disadvantages of employing foreign workers far outweigh the advantages in the long run. From the employers’ point of view, they desperately need the foreign workers.

This situation has been created by the employers themselves. Foreign labour is a quick fix for their woes. The employers pay them low wages and provide them with deplorable working conditions. Their accommodation is atrocious.

It’s time employers are committed to the social and economic growth of the nation as a whole. Their greed and self-centredness are certainly going to be stumbling blocks to making Malaysia a high income nation.

It is time employers start doing away with labour-intensive work methods.

Sungai Petani, Kedah.

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