Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Workers going – and so is business

What say you on the issue below?

PETALING JAYA: Having to close down eight restaurants within three years has been tough for a local Indian-Muslim restaurant owner.
The owner who does not want to be identified said he currently runs one restaurant in Shah Alam with 12 employees but even that has been difficult, due to the shortage of workers.
“Sometimes, I ask my three school going children to help me out. We just don’t have enough workers,” he said.
He does not understand why the Government has imposed the freeze on foreign workers who are very crucial for the eatery businesses.
The owner said mamak restaurants cater to more than 60% of the middle-income group.
“Despite the increase in our operational cost, we are unable to increase our prices because we want to ensure customers come to our restaurants daily,” he said, adding he had to close his restaurants in Cyberjaya, Bandar Baru Bangi and Subang Jaya, Selangor.
Shortage of workers had forced Datuk R. Ramalingam Pillai, owner of an Indian restaurant in Petaling Jaya, to be hands on and serve his customers as well as help out his workers in the kitchen.
“We have exhausted all our options including hiring locals but there is no certainty that they will work for us for a long period of time.
“After they learn cooking, some of the roti canai makers go to Singapore where they can earn around about 3000 Singapore dollars per month (about RM9,000).
“No choice, have to do work myself,” said Ramalingam.
Within a period of two years, he had to close down two out of four of his Indian restaurants in Petaling Jaya and Damansara.
Ramalingam shared that many of his chefs have returned to India.
“Once they return home, it is very hard to re-hire them. This will impact our business and at the end of the day, if we cannot cope, we have to shut down our business,” he said.
He is among the hundreds of restaurant owners who are struggling to operate their business due to the shortage of foreign workers.
Ramalingam is also concerned that if the situation persist, he may not be able to provide the best service to customers.
“Cleanliness is one of the most important part and our priority but how can you emphasize on this if you are short of staff,” he said.
Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors’ General Association president Ho Su Mong said the association is facing a shortage of 10,000 foreign workers.
The shortage, said Ho, means that some members cannot operate their businesses from morning until evening every day.
“Because of the shortage, some members are forced to close at 2pm or 3pm.
“Even the bosses must move out from their cashier booths to serve the customers.
“We are also encouraging our members to have self-service, maybe like collecting the drinks themselves from the beverage station, but our customers are not happy about it,” he said.
Ho said many are operating at a minimal profit but said if the situation continues, they may be forced to transfer the cost to the consumers.
Federation of Livestock Farmers’ Associations Malaysia president Datuk Jeffrey Ng said one of his contract farms was forced to shutdown as there were not enough workers.
“The farm simply did not have enough workers to manage it and we had to shut it down,” said Ng of the farm, which produced 200,000 chickens every 60 days.
He added that another farm of his, which has a capacity of 800,000 chickens, has still managed to maintain the number but his workers have to work long hours.

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